Most local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have failed to meet the criteria to disburse the Global Fund HIV and Aids funds, as only three out of the initial 63 have made it, it has been established.
The list is dominated by international NGOs, a development Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen), a consortium of local NGOs in the health sector, fears is a setback to the fight against HIV and Aids.
The development comes after the Global Fund stopped channelling funds through the previously scandal-plagued National Aids Commission (NAC) early last year.
Mhen executive director George Jobe said in an interview yesterday the local NGOs have an advantage over international ones, including presence in remote areas; hence, the reduced number could be disastrous.
But Action Aid executive director Martha Khonje, whose institution administers the two-year bio-medical project, yesterday said the process was intense as they were looking for many documents before an organisation could be qualified to apply.
She said: “For one to qualify for application alone, we needed two audit reports, a concept note and other documentation.
“Only 24 out of the initial 63 met this yardstick. After evaluation, the applications came down to 17 and eventually 15.”
Khonje explained that after a physical check of the 15 organisations, the number was further reduced to nine, including three local organisations and international ones with local affiliation.
On the impact of having few local organisations in the HIV and Aids fight, Khonje said what is important is not to fund many organisations “but the number of people they are going to reach; hence contribute to the 90:90:90 national strategic plan”.
But Jobe argued it is more expensive to fund an international organisation than a local one which has better penetration in rural areas, where the greatest need for intervention lies.
“This decision will definitely hamper efforts in the fight against HIV and Aids, as most of these are also not conversant with local government.
“If we are to change this, then some of these organisations must work with local organisations, otherwise leaving it as it is will not be helpful at all,” he said.
The Global Fund is funding the $298 million (about K206 billion) bio-medical project to run from 2016 to 2018, with ActionAid as the project administrator.
Local organisations that have benefited as sub-recipients are Manet+, Episcopal Conference of Malawi and Family Planning Association of Malawi (Fpam) while the international organisations include Southern African Aids Trust, Christian Aid, Dignitas, Bella College, Project Hope and Dream Programme.
In February last year, ActionAid took over the administration of the Global Fund grants in Malawi after NAC was stripped of its status as principal recipient of the grants following controversies in the management of funds.