Reuters news agency has corrected a news item that had erroneously reported that the Global Fund had cancelled US$574 million of grants to Malawi. In an update, Reuters reported that Global Funda has redirected the funding away from Malawi’s National Aids Council (NAC) after allegations of financial mismanagement, including the purchase of vehicles that were not budgeted for.
The original news item, titled “Global Fund cancels $574 mln for fighting AIDS in Malawi,” erroneously reported that Malawi’s Minister of Health, Jean Kalilani, said that the Global Fund had cancelled grants to Malawi.
The Global Fund did not cancel any funding to Malawi, where HIV is a serious concern. In fact, Malawi is currently implementing extensive programs that prevent, treat and care for people affected by HIV, and is in the process of submitting detailed funding applications to the Global Fund to support programs in the coming years.
Kalirani claimed aid the Geneva-based fund had been misled by “unpatriotic Malawians”.
However, the Global Fund disputed this, saying it had decided earlier this year to channel the assistance, which runs until 2017, through Malawi’s Ministry of Health and the charity ActionAid rather than through the NAC, a public trust that is meant to spearhead the national response to HIV/Aids.
The fund said it had not considered cancelling AIDS funding to Malawi, one of the world’s worst-hit countries and home to more than one million children orphaned by the disease.
“At no time did the Global Fund discuss cancelling the $574 million allocation,” it said in a statement. “Every grant by the Global Fund is approved by the board and any cancellation has to be approved by the board.”
Greater access to medicine, backed by cash from the Global Fund, has helped slash AIDS-related deaths in Malawi, where HIV/Aids has been blamed for 59 percent of deaths among those aged 15 to 59 years in the landlocked southern African nation.
Malawi, a nation of 13 million people which depends on foreign aid for 40 percent of its national budget, has suffered after donors withheld funding over a major corruption scandal in 2013.
The Fund said Malawi had already repaid $3.3 million of improper spending unearthed by a 2012 audit, while an additional unspecified amount of “inadequately accounted funding” identified by donors was “still under discussion”.
Kalilani said the Fund had asked Malawi to repay a total of $6.4 million. She did not provide a breakdown.
Meanwhile, The Nation reports that Businesspersons who mobilised money to refund National Aids Commission (NAC) on behalf of First Lady Getrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi (Beam)Trust have taken back their funds.
NAC donated K5 million to Beam in September last year, attracting protests from a number of quarters, including some civil society organisations which demonstrated over the matter.
In the wake of refund demands, some businesspersons in Lilongwe, led by Bannet Chinsinga, sourced the money and paid it through Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba.
However, NAC and Beam distanced themselves from the refund which was eventually sent to to the Office of the President and Cabinet for safe keeping in what critics said was a charade.—(Additional reporting by Nyasa Times)Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :