Implementation of the HIV and Aids Prevention and Management Act passed in 2017 has given National Aids Commission (NAC) a new mandate that has led to reduction in the number of employees in a restructuring drive, it has emerged.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary (PS) Dan Namarika said in an interview last evening that the new law changes NAC’s mandate of prevention of HIV and Aids and management of grants to focus on HIV prevention only. He said this has necessitated a functional review of the organisation.
He said: “The new mandate for new NAC is a bit different from the previous one. The advertising of positions started with the board of commissioners, then top management which will implement the function review.
“The new NAC will be the implementing agency of Ministry [of Health] policy. However, the Act has provisions for review which would mean in some time it could broaden its scope and give NAC new mandate.”
Namarika said all NAC employees were on contract and that the terms for the top management contracts were expiring; hence, it was important that they be advertised to facilitate the implementation of functional reviews.
But information The Nation has sourced indicates that NAC was undergoing restructuring and functional review which has to date trimmed the number of employees from 112 to 57.
One source said that about 37 employees have been factored into the new structure while 10 positions will have to be competed for internally and another 10 will be advertised externally.
Yesterday, NAC advertised three management positions of chief executive officer, director of HIV and Aids programmes and director of finance and administration as part of the restructuring of the commission on recommendation from the review committee that reviewed NAC in line with the new law.
The source said the three previous holders of the top positions last reported for work on Friday.
In a separate interview, NAC board chairperson Jones Chikoko-Nkhoma corroborated that there was a report from the review committee that made several recommendations which the board was looking into that would see restructuring of the organisations in line with the new law.
He said the new HIV and Aids Prevention and Management Act made several policy directions, including the reduction of members of the board of directors to seven only of which four, a practising accountant, a member of civil society organisations (CSOs), a representative from the private sector and a representative of the academia have to apply.
Chikoko-Nkhoma said the other positions would be filled by the ex-officio members that include PS for Health, PS for Gender, Women, Disability and Social Welfare and PS for Local Government and Rural Development.
He said: “Health was included because it is a line ministry, Gender because HIV mostly relates to women and nutrition while Local Government for grass roots’ engagement.”
Chikoko-Nkhoma also said the review committee made several recommendations which will be decided upon in phases of which phase one was to recruit the executive management that would implement the recommendations in the report.
Both Chikoko-Nkhoma and Namarika emphasised that during the restructuring and functional review process, no employee will be disadvantaged. They said the current employees can apply once the adverts for their positions are published.
NAC has been struggling since the Global Fund for Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV and Aids struck it out as a principal recipient of funding. With the new mandate, NAC will focus on prevention of HIV.
The Nation sources said the restructuring will also see the closure of district coordination offices that were located in Blantyre in the Southern Region and Mzuzu in the Northern Region.
The sources also said NAC’s grants management unit has been removed from the organisational structure.