Zimbabwean officials and AIDS activists are expressing disappointment that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in its latest round of grants rejected yet another of the country's proposals seeking funds to combat the deadly diseases.
Zimbabwe has been awarded US$46 million in two previous Global Fund rounds, but to date has received only about US$4 million for HIV-AIDS programs. Other regional nations including Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia have been granted some $359 million and received US$173 million.
The disparity in grant awards and distribution, and previous rejections of Zimbabwe’s proposals, have led some to allege political bias on the part of the Global Fund.
But Fund spokesman John Liden said Zimbabwe is not alone in seeing its applications rejected. He invited it to appeal the decision or submit another application in 2007.
Canadian-based AIDS activist Believe Dhliwayo, a member of the Global Fund country coordinating mechanism for Zimbabwe before going abroad, said the Fund decision disheartened him. But he acknowledged that despite Zimbabwe's progress in reducing the rate of HIV prevalence, its human rights record and political alienation from the West leave it vulnerable to such negative outcomes. He noted in addition that Harare's proposal failed to address the critical element of community and grass roots needs.
Fund spokesman Liden told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that of the 136 countries that have submitted proposals in the past, many have been rejected – mostly for shortcomings in the proposal itself.
National AIDS Council Director Tapiwa Magure said that while the news came as a disappointment, Zimbabwe is doing all it can to scale up treatment for HIV-AIDS.
Spokesman Gladman Njanji of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations adds that Zimbabwe may have failed to meet the deadline for submitting proposals. But he told reporter Carole Gombakomba that the Global Fund has failed to seriously consider the plight and the suffering of Zimbabweans.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...