Yesterday morning, the health minister for the Global Fund, announced that it is canceling $574 million in grants to Malawi for fighting AIDs, and also asked for a $6.4 million refund due to allegations of financial mismanagement.
Jean Kalilani stated that the Global Fund has asked for the refund after the National AIDs Commission (NAC) was accused of buying cars that they were not budgeted for. The NAC has been the face of the national response effort for HIV and AIDS in Malawi. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is responsible for wiping out an entire generation of adults, and leaving millions of children bereaved.
“The Fund has asked us to repay $6.4 million for buying vehicles which were not budgeted for and they have also pulled the plug on $574 million funding for the next two years because of allegations of financial mismanagement and political abuse,” Kalilani told a number of reporters in a conference on March 24th.
The Minister of the Global Fund is now planning to distribute funds through different organizations, instead having the NAC disperse the money. According to many rights activists, the NAC has been taking millions, while only giving a fraction to those in need. The rights group even stated that the NAC only gave out a total of $33,000, and pocketed millions last year.
“This is what started everything, clearly NAC was diverting funds meant for putting people on anti-retroviral drugs and giving it out to political organizations who have nothing to do with core-anti Aids activities,” said Gift Trapence, a leading rights activist.
Malawian citizens are now in bind, they depend on foreign aid for nearly 40% of the nation’s budget and will now have to wait for the money to be dispersed again.