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Global Fund Declines Zimbabwe Request For TB, Malaria Funding

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said Tuesday it had rejected proposals from Zimbabwe’s for further grants to combat TB and malaria.

Global Fund Communications Officer Nicolas Demey said grant proposals submitted by Zimbabwe seeking a total of US$48.5 million for malaria and US$25.5 million for tuberculosis over a five year period were turned down for technical weaknesses.

He said he could not determine whether Zimbabwe had also applied for another grant to fight AIDS, noting that proposals go through stages before reaching a technical review panel which recommends successful proposals to the Fund's board.

Neither Zimbabwean Health Minister David Parirenyatwa nor any other senior official in the national health system could be reached immediately for comment.

To date the Global Fund has turned down Zimbabwean proposals in five of seven funding rounds. However, to date the Fund has disbursed around US$35 million with approximately US$50 million more pending disbursement to Harare.

So far in 2007 the Global Fund has approved 73 new grants for a total of US$1.1 billion, the highest in any single year since its creation in 2002. To date the Fund has made grants totaling some US$10 billion to the benefit of 136 countries.

Fund Executive Director David Kazatchkine said the billion-dollar mark attained this year reflected "high-quality demand for resources," a trend to be encouraged.

Fund figures show AIDS and malaria accounting for 48% and 42%, respectively, of the funding approved, with tuberculosis grants accounting for 10%.

Demey rejected the charge which has often been leveled against the Fund that its rejection of the latest Zimbabwean applications was political, given the significant declines in Zimbabwe’s HIV prevalence rate in recent years.

He told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Fund encouraged Harare reapply to the next round to run in March-June 2008.

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