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Harare and Global Fund Ink $65 Million Funding Against Killer Diseases.

Zimbabwe is closer to receiving US$65 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, with the signing of a grant agreement on Wednesday.

The long-awaited agreement had been a bone of contention between Zimbabwe and the Global Fund, which has often been accused of playing politics when it comes to how much funding it allocates and disburses to Zimbabwe’s programs.

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said the money will help scale up the number of Zimbabweans receiving antiretroviral drug therapy for HIV-AIDS. Currently, fewer than 50,000 of an estimated 350,000 people who need ARVs are receiving them.

The Fund’s rejection last month of Zimbabwe’s proposal for a grant in its sixth round of funding selection angered Harare officials and many AIDS activists who complain that although the country has lowered its HIV prevalence rate it has been slighted by international donors who do not approve of President Robert Mugabe's policies.

Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe spoke with the Global Fund communications chief Jon Liden, who said Wednesday’s agreement should dispel any lingering notions that the Fund is politically biased.

More reports From VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe...