Harare — THE long awaited Global Fund on HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria is now ready to disburse money to five countries that are still to be named, while working out mechanisms on the rest, a senior World Health Organisation official has said.
Zimbabwe is one of the few African countries whose proposal was approved and is set to get $1,3 billion (US$22 million). The first tranche of $55 million is expected to be made available soon.
The fund was launched at the United Nations General Assembly Special Aids Session on HIV/Aids held in New York last year. It is meant to reverse the spread of HIV/Aids, TB and malaria by 2010.
In an interview this week, WHO executive director, Dr David Nabarro confirmed that he had heard that five countries would soon be getting money from the Fund.
WHO is a member of the Fund board.
"I have heard that the Fund is now ready to start disbursement to five countries but I honestly do not know which are the five countries," said Dr Nabarro.
He however, said given the need in Southern Africa, WHO was going to make an urgent appeal to the Fund secretariat to consider "with urgency" moving the money to the region.
"As you know the fund was set up by donors and WHO will only act as an advocate for Southern Africa to get the money," said Dr Nabarro.
Sadc health ministers who met in Harare this week said they were concerned at the slow pace at which the Fund secretariat was moving in disbursing the money considering the tight deadline they were given to produce proposals.
Some of the countries in the region like Zimbabwe were given 10 days in which to put together their proposals.
Zimbabwe's proposal is centred on the prevention of Parent/Mother-To-Child-Transmission of HIV, community home-based care and prevention of HIV infection among youths.
Voluntary counselling and testing of HIV is also a major priority.
On malaria, Zimbabwe wants its management programmes to control the deadly but preventable disease.
Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and Haiti are some of the severely affected countries that received the largest amounts.
Africa, where Aids is most rampant, is set to get 52 percent, Americas 13 percent, Eastern Mediterranean one percent, Eastern Europe and Central Asia eight percent, Southeast Asia 12 percent and Western Pacific 14 percent.