Global Fund grants Tanzania 898bn/- to combat Aids, TB and malaria
By Adam Ihucha, Arusha
The battle against the three leading killer diseases of Aids, tuberculosis and malaria has received a major boost in the form of grants amounting to USD680 million from the Global Fund.
``Tanzania becomes a baby of the Global Fund to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. We are now eligible for the largest package ever of USD680m grants in its 8th round,`` Tanzania Commission for Aids (TACAIDS) executive chairperson Dr Fatma Mrisho said on Wednesday.
Briefing the media immediately after a three-day Global Fund meeting for Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean region in Arusha, Dr Mrisho said they were finalizing formalities before the agreement was signed in the next four months.
``The grants, the largest sum ever committed to Tanzania in seven years, aims to support large-scale prevention, treatment and care programmes against the three diseases,`` Dr Mrisho said.
It is anticipated that, come July this year, the funds would be released ready for disbursement.
Nearly 85 per cent of the package would boost the fight against the three major killer diseases in 133 district councils in the country.
However, a large chunk of the grants would be directed to fighting malaria, the country’s major killer disease at the moment, according to the TACAIDS chief.
As to why the Global Fund had approved such a large sum for Tanzania, Dr Mrisho, who was with Global Fund executive director Prof Michel Kazatchkine during the crucial talks in Arusha, said: ``The Global Fund regards Tanzania as a rare example of East African showcase in the war against Aids, tuberculosis and malaria``.
She said Tanzania had proved itself to be a country that did most things right.
``As Global Fund prepares to disburse funds to its round 9 to eligible countries, Tanzania will be near the front of the line, a test case of a country that is seen as doing most things right,`` Dr. Mrisho noted.
In the Eastern Africa and Indian Ocean region, the Global Fund supports programmes in fighting the three diseases in Burundi, Comoros, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
According to the Funds executive director, Prof Michel Kazatchkine, all the grants combined in the region were worth more than USD4.1bn, of which almost USD1.9bn had already been disbursed.
``Progammes in Eastern Africa and Indian Ocean region combined account for more than 27 per cent of the overall Global Fund portfolio approved to date, which is worth USD15bn,`` he said.