Global Fund Aids Breakthrough For Province
Western Cape Premier, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, and the Western Cape Minister for Health, Minister Piet Meyer, met this morning in Geneva, Switzerland with Mr Elhadj Sy - the Fund Portfolio Director: Africa, of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Accompanying the Premier and Minister was Dr Fareed Abdullah, the Western Cape Deputy Director General for Special Health Projects.
Speaking about the purpose of the meeting, Premier Van Schalkwyk said: "The Western Cape submitted a proposal to the Global Fund in August this year for substantial funding in support of our fight against HIV/Aids. Our meeting today was to discuss the last details of that proposal as well as the way forward. It is my great pleasure to be able to confirm that a contribution of up to US$ 66,5 million (more than R455 million) has been approved in principal over a period of 5 years by the Global Fund. Once finalised this will be both the largest and the single most important international contribution to Health in our province."
"This amounts to a major motion of confidence by the global community in the Western Cape's existing Aids programmes, our future plans, and our ability to manage a major multi-year project of this nature," said the Premier. "The in-principle approval of these funds is an important breakthrough for our Government as we prepare to rapidly roll out anti-retroviral treatment to expanded numbers of people living with HIV/Aids in our province. We stand ready to enter the next phase of our battle against HIV/Aids. This funding will boost the ability of our Government to act swiftly to implement anti-retroviral treatment in the province and will significantly boost our ability to save the lives of thousands of our people in the Western Cape and to improve the quality of life of thousands more."
The Premier added that: "Apart from giving a massive boost to our treatment, education and care programmes, this provisional approval is also a sincere compliment to Minister Piet Meyer and his senior management who have put more than 18 months of work into this process."
Minister Piet Meyer, speaking about the importance of the provisional approval said: "This grant is naturally in addition to the money provided for HIV/Aids in the Western Cape Health budget, and these additional funds will be used specifically in our Western Cape communities to:
- Provide anti-retroviral treatment;
- Deepen peer-education programmes especially amongst our youth
- Improve our hospice and step-down care; and
- To strengthen our community-based responses to Aids."
Dr Abdullah, commenting on the discussions added that: "What remains is in the nature of a formality. Our Western Cape Health Department will now answer a few technical questions about the business plans we have submitted." The delegation also noted their appreciation to Dr Nono Simelela from the SA National Department of Health, for her role in securing the grant for the province, and the approval of the application by the South African National AIDS Council chaired by the Deputy President.
"The Western Cape has already gained international recognition for having the fastest and one of the most effective roll-outs of a Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission programme which earlier this year effectively achieved 100% provincial coverage. We have also negotiated important international agreements on treatment with NGO's like MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and Crusaid, and signed an agreement with one of the major international pharmaceutical companies for free Nevirapine in the province," said the Premier.
"It is our intention, should everything go according to plan, to make a formal announcement confirming the details of the roll-out of this project on International Aids Day, 1 December this year," said the Premier. "We are hoping that amongst the most senior representatives of the Global Fund will join us for that important event."
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria was set up in 2001 on the initiative of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a mechanism to finance AIDS, TB and Malaria interventions on a scale appropriate to the effort required to combat these diseases. Since 2001, the Global Fund has attracted US$ 4.7 billion in financing through 2008. In its first two rounds of grant-making, it has committed US $ 1.5 billion in funding to support 154 programs in 93 countries worldwide.
Professor Richard Feachem is the Executive Director of the Fund. He reports to a board that is representative of NGOs, governments, the private sector and persons living with AIDS in the developed and developing world. The Board is chaired by the US Secretary of State for Health and Human Sciences, Tommy Thompson. The South African Minister of Health serves on the Board.
Every 6 - 12 months the GF invites applications for funding. Applications must be processed via a country co-ordinating mechanism (CCM). The application is then evaluated by a technical review panel which makes recommendations to the Board where the final decisions are made.
An invitation to apply for funds was made to the Western Cape from the SA National AIDS Council (SANAC) in its capacity as country co-ordinating mechanism in August 2003. A proposal was written by the Provincial Health Department in partnership with the Department of Education, City of Cape Town, Hospice Association of the Western Cape and NGOs. This proposal was approved by the Provincial AIDS Council, which is widely representative of all role players involved in the AIDS epidemic in the Province. The proposal was then submitted to SANAC after being reviewed by a technical review panel in Pretoria. The Western Cape proposal was approved by both the national technical review panel and by SANAC for inclusion into a single combined country proposal.
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