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Hopes Of Zimbabwe HIV/AIDS Community Dashed By Funds Diversion

Zimbabweans struggling to survive HIV/AIDS were anxiously awaiting the outcome of a meeting Friday in New Delhi of the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, following the revelation that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe diverted funds provided the country, potentially sinking Zimbabwe's hopes for more funding.

HIV/AIDS activists and health experts said the disclosure that the central bank misused US$7.3 million in funds meant to fight malaria was extremely damaging to Zimbabwe's hopes for more monies in the Global Fund's round eight. The Global Fund board will decide on the final allocation of some US$3 billion in resources.

Zimbabwe's chances not long ago seemed bright: the Global Fund's technical review committee gave a favorable reading to its application for up to US$500 million. But the disclosures of official financial misfeasance appeared to dash such hopes.

Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine wrote to the Zimbabwe donor community this week to say that his organization will not approve any application by Zimbabwe until it is assured the funds will be secure.

HIV/AIDS activists and AIDS service groups said they were making last minute appeals to the Global Fund board not to punish suffering Zimbabweans, as correspondent Sylvia Manika of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from Harare.

Economist Daniel Ndlela told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that by dipping into humanitarian funds, Harare has done a major disservice to the people who urgently need such medical care.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...