20 September 2012

Mozambique: Government Takes Over Funding of Aids Council

Maputo — The Mozambican government is to take full responsibility for funding the National AIDS Council (CNCS), after a collapse in support from foreign donors.

At a CNCS meeting in Maputo on Wednesday, called to discuss the organisation's financial woes, Prime Minister Aires Ali said a significant amount of funding for the CNCS would be included in the state budget for 2013, which the government is submitting to the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

He stressed that the fight against HIV/AIDS remains a priority for the government. "We have to fight against this evil, which is reducing our capacity to act against our main enemy, which is poverty", said Ali.

How much money from the State Budget will be injected into the CNCS is not yet clear. Health Minister Alexandre Manguele did not give a figure, but pledged that the government will do all in its power to guarantee the continuity of CNCS activities.

"The CNCS is in a fragile situation, because the resources available for its operations have been affected by the withdrawal of support from most of the international donors", he said.

He told reporters that, during the meeting, "it was clear that the government will increase support through the state budget to ensure that the activities in the national response to the epidemic continue".

CNCS programmes were premised on donor support of 16 to 17 million dollars a year up until 2008, when most donor financing ended. Now the CNCS is managing just 2.5 million dollars to run its activities until the end of the year.

The CNCS Executive Secretary, Joana Mangueira, denied that the donor pullout had anything to do with alleged problems of mismanagement.

"The explanation they gave us indicates that the international financial crisis is the reason for their withdrawal", she said. "We never had management problems. Besides, we always had good relations with our partners who were even generous with us".

As from 2013, there will be no donor funding at all, added Mangueira, which meant that the CNCS faces "the enormous challenge of doing more with many fewer resources".

The most recent statistics on HIV in Mozambique, suggests that 11.5 per cent of people aged between 15 and 49 are HIV-positive. Despite all the efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, it is estimated that there are still 400 new HIV infections per day.

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