Malawi says it is keen to negotiate with The Global Fund for National Aids Commission (NAC) to be reinstated as the principal recipient in its war against HIV and Aids.
Ministry of Health and Population spokesperson Joshua Malango said this yesterday in reaction to a recommendation by the Parliamentary Cluster Committee on Health, HIV and Aids and Nutrition that government should engage the Global Fund to let NAC revert to being the principal recipient of Global Fund resources in the country.
Also welcoming the recommendation in Parliament in Lilongwe on Tuesday was the Malawi Health Equity Network (Mehn) which expressed happiness that the committee had appreciated the transformation government had brought about in Malawi’s fight against HIV and Aids through NAC.
Malango pointed out that for many years, NAC had been the main recipient of the Global Funds until that was changed in 2015, amid accusations that some funds from Global Fund were being abused. Since then, The Global Fund’s $574 million grant is channelled Action Aid and World Vision.
The government later reformed NAC and is currently restructuring the institution in accordance to the new HIV and Aids Act, which has brought structures that allow NAC to be audited and be summoned by the Public Accounts Committee to account for the donor money.
“We feel good that the parliamentary committee has noted the importance of NAC. It has structures that Global Fund wants. On top of that, NAC can be audited by Parliament, which is the thing Global Fund wants; we already presented our case to Global Fund and we are just waiting from them,” Malango said.
He stated that during the period Global Fund stopped channelling money through NAC, some services have suffered, especially in communities, because the organisations that were using the fund still needed the structures that NAC established.
Under Subvented Organisations, Vote 275, in the 2019/20 National Budget, NAC has been allocated K3.3 billion, representing a 13.29 percent increase from the previous 2018/19 financial year. However, NAC requires K4.6 billion per year to support its operations.
But despite the 13.29 percent increase, the proportion of funds towards the implementation of programmes has declined in the 2019/20 financial year because it includes K973 million allocated to staff compensations due to the restructuring process that is in progress.
Commenting on the report, Mhen executive director George Jobe concurred with the idea of engaging The Global Fund, to revive operations that suffered when NAC funding dwindled.
He said: “There has been information gap on HIV which, we feel, NAC had mastered and this has affected prevention and home-based care.”
He, however, advised that there should not be a 100 percent transition, but a gradual one.
In its report to Parliament, the committee has also advised government to adhere to commitments under the Abuja Declaration to allocate 15 percent of the national budget to the health sector, to ensure effective service delivery in the sector.
In the 2019/20 proposed national budget, the health sector has been allocated K101billion, a 12.6 percent increase from last year’s K89.9 billion, where K25.9 billion has been set aside for the procurement of drugs.
Committee chairperson Deus Gumba presented the report in Parliament, stressing that if Malawi was to sustain the gains it has registered in the HIV and Aids fight, there is a need to let Global Fund make NAC principal recipient of its funds again.
“There is a need for government to engage the Global Fund to let NAC become the principal recipient of Global Fund resources in the country,” he said.