- I It failed to meet funding criteria—MCC
- l ActionAid, World Vision to help Govt
Embattled National Aids Commission (NAC), which has lately been embroiled in funding controversies, has been stripped of its long-time status as principal recipient of Global Fund grants, Ministry of Health confirmed this week.
Minister of Health Jean Kalilani attributed the development to Global Fund’s New Funding Model, but the Fund’s Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) in Malawi said in an interview yesterday NAC failed to meet the criteria for the funding.
“Since time immemorial NAC has been Global Fund’s principal recipient (PR), but this time around it competed with other organisations and NAC was not successful…it did not meet the required criteria,” said head of MCC secretariat Victor Chiyambi who refused to comment on the future role of NAC saying the commission was better placed to explain.
But NAC’s acting executive director, Davis Kalumba, and board chairperson Mara Kumbweza Banda could not be reached for comment.
Kalilani said the ministry and two renowned international charity and development organisations—Action Aid and World Vision—will now take charge of a whopping $574 million grant Global Fund has given Malawi in its stepped-up war against HIV and Aids, tuberculosis and malaria in the next three years.
“In line with the new Global Fund dual financing requirement where there is need to have two principal recipients, one from the government side and the other from the civil society, the Ministry of Health has been selected to be government principal recipient for both malaria and the joint TB/HIV grants to be awarded to implement malaria, TB and HIV/Aids bio-medical interventions while ActionAid and World Vision will implement joint TB/HIV and Malaria non-biomedical interventions, respectively,” she said.
However, Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director Martha Kwataine said the change in principal recipients could ensure that funding for HIV and Aids, malaria and tuberculosis is not abused through political interference.
“This is not the first time Global Fund has taken such a stand in Africa… Surely, it means the role of NAC will be redefined. In their redefined roles, it is likely there will be a scale down in the volume of work and sadly that may mean loss of jobs for some staff but that is normal with any reform process,” she said.
Kwataine urged the recipients to refrain from abusing donor resources.
“We also hope that the organisations were duly assessed before the decisions were made,” she said.
Efforts to speak to Action Aid and World Vision proved futile as questionnaires sent to the organisations during the week were not responded to.
But explaining the development, UNAids country director Amakobe Sande said the selection process for principal recepients is by competitive bidding.
“The Global Fund does not decide on behalf of a country which organisation wins the tender. That decision is taken by the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund and the same procedure was applied in Malawi. That procedure resulted in the Malawi Global Fund Country Coordinating based on the requirement of Malawi’s proposal, selecting the Ministry of Health as the principal recepient on the government side and ActionAid and World Vision as the principal recepient on the non-governmental side,” Sande said.
She said NAC will continue to be the coordinator of the national response to HIV and Aids.
“The fact that NAC in Malawi is not a PR this time around should not throw into question what its role will now become… The primary responsibility of [NAC] therefore is coordination and ensuring effective, multi-sectoral coordination of the national response to HIV and Aids,” she said.
The Minister of Health said Global Fund allocated Malawi $574.3 million for the period 2014 to 2016.
“The $278.2 million is part of the on-going commitment and is already in the country through existing grants which are ending December 2015. The balance is a new commitment for the period January 2015 to December 2016 for which Malawi was required to submit to the Global Fund a concept note as part of the new funding model mechanism,” she said.
Malawi submitted two concept notes, one for malaria and the other on TB/HIV to the Global Fund on 30th January 2015.
According to the minister, Malawi will also pump in funds in new commitments.
“Government will contribute approximately $30 million towards malaria, TB (tuberculosis), and HIV and Aids interventions for the period 2014 to 2016, as part of the requirement by the Global Fund for countries to demonstrate ownership and ‘willingness to pay,’” she said.
In March last year, the Global Fund secretariat announced that the NAC’s overall performance was downgraded to ‘inadequate,’ mainly due to weaknesses in financial management, which led to ineligible, or unsupported, expenditures and delays in external audit.
In Malawi NAC has been under fire from human rights and civil society organisations, which have been protesting the funding of two organisation’s Beautify Malawi (Beam) Trust and Mulhakho wa Alhomwe, a tribal grouping.
The detractors contend that the two organisations have nothing to do with core anti-Aids activities.
A recent National Audit Office investigative report also revealed political abuse of resources at the commission where State House and Joyce Banda Foundation International—owned by former president Joyce Banda—obtained the commission’s resources under dubious circumstances between 2013 and 2014.
A recent National Audit Office investigative report also revealed political abuse of resources at the commission where State House and Joyce Banda Foundation International—owned by former president Joyce Banda—are reported to have obtained the commission’s resources under dubious circumstances between 2013 and 2014. n