Funds pledged to fight AIDS may lapse

Kathmandu, November 1:

Large chunk of a fund of over $11 million pledged by the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) is on the verge of freezing if the agencies concerned do not enhance their capacity in their fight against the dreaded disease.

Institutions and people working to fight AIDS are fearing that the fund pledged may not come to Nepal since the successive governments have not been able to enhance performance and thus implement more projects.

Cognizant of the spending capacity, the GFATM has so far released only $200,000 of the $11m for five years. However, this is not the complete story. Some 17 agencies — most of them INGOs — which are currently working in the area of HIV/AIDS and related fields, would not have benefited from the fund had the UN not stepped in by January 2005.

“There was no headway at all until the end of 2004. That was the phase when the government thought it cannot do the needful and needed involvement of UN. This was followed by active role of the UN which picked up 17 NGOs to do the needful,” said Jagdish Chandra Bhatta, Member-Secretary of the National NGO Network Group Against AIDS- Nepal (NANGAN).

Bhatta also said that the main problem dogging the National Centre for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC) as well as the entire bureaucracy under the Ministry of Health and Population is the lack of skill in the managerial front and worst case scenario in fund mobilisation through NGOs.

Claims are also in place that it would be misnomer to infer that the UN involvement has taken the fight against AIDS any further. Among others, it has resulted in the jobs going to the selected INGOs rather than the NGOs.

But Dr Shyam Sundar Mishra, Director of NCASC, attributed the delay to a number of factors including the way the UN system works. “We work according to our system. They have their own ways. Progress reports have to come from a number of quarters including MOPH, Ministry of Finance, National Planning Commission (NPC). Then there is MSA, an UN agencies which monitors,” Dr Mishra said.