GOVERNMENT says it will urgently release its US$6 million contribution to the Global Fund to ensure that it does not lose US$400 million for medicine and other health programmes for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
Failure by the country to make its contribution could result in Zimbabwe losing millions of dollars to purchase the much-needed antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs from international health financial basket, the Global Fund.
According to the Global Fund, to increase country ownership and build the sustainability of programmes, its funding model includes a requirement for countries to commit to co-financing the response to AIDS, TB and malaria.
Global Fund provides medicines for about 700 000 (about 70 percent) out of about 1,3 million people living with HIV, while Government and other partners cater for the remainder.
Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda told legislators on Wednesday that they had engaged the Ministry of Finance to expedite the payment of the country's contribution to the Global Fund.
"I have engaged the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Professor Mthuli Ncube and the minister has confirmed that Treasury will urgently pay Zimbabwe's contribution of US$6 million to the Global Fund to ensure that as a country, we do not lose material benefits of being an up-to-date member.
"The minister has also agreed to present a Ministerial Statement on Zimbabwe's contribution to the Global Fund," said Adv Mudenda.
He said his statement comes after a demand by the chairperson of the Child and Health Care Committee on HIV and AIDS, Dr Ruth Labode to make a Ministerial Statement to Parliament over the issue.
Dr Labode said Government cannot afford to let the opportunity pass as the Global Fund deadline for the contribution will expire soon.
"I would want to ask the Minister of Finance to come and give a Ministerial Statement in this House because Zimbabwe stands to lose part of the $400 million that is coming for ARVs because we have failed to pay our own contribution which only comes to $6 million. We cannot afford to lose $400 million because of $6 million.
"So he must come and tell us the reason behind the non-payment," said Dr Labode a fortnight ago.
The Global Fund has been one of the major contributors to financing the country's health programmes, specifically the HIV/AIDS scourge.
Such programmes have seen a marked decrease in the prevalence of the devastating condition, with Zimbabwe being commended globally for managing to bring down its prevalence rate to between 13,5 and 14 percent from around 30 percent, according to official statistics.
Access to drugs by those in need has also increased due to programmes by international agencies such as the Global Fund.