RBZ Ignores Looming ARV Crisis

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s reluctance to release the much needed US$6 million by the National Aids Council of Zimbabwe (NAC) could plunge the nation into Antiretroviral shortage imminently.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
This was said by the CCM Coordinator Mr Oscar Mundida at a Civil Society Organisation workshop on Universal Health Coverage organized by UNAIDS and Zimbabwe Aids Network.
Mr Mundida said NAC is yet to get their hands on the US$6 million to settle arrears they owe to ARV suppliers. The CCM Coordinator explained that Zimbabwe has nothing to show for its counterpart financing promise.
“We need Government to release the money for NAC which is locked away at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Global Fund is saying Zimbabwe should commit to its counterpart financing grant. Every time we write a grant we make a commitment that we can commit this much. So Global Fund is saying how far have you gone in meeting your promise?
“If we give you US$506 million you can commit 15 percent. They just want receipts. There is nothing to show. Where are the receipts? Because we are going to the next replenishment. When they go to the replenishment they are going to ask what have been the contributions of other countries,” he said.
He noted that by July people could be in panic mode.
“Everybody knows that we are going for a shortage. It takes us nine months for us to order and get the medicines. So around July, August, don’t be surprised people running around looking for medicines. So Universal Health coverage, we know certain concepts can be applicable in normal environment. Ours is not. What we need is to take Government by the horn. So I think we should create a task force to say lets go meet the minister over this issue and get a timeline. From Global Fund, the message was clear that they will be going for replenishment in the next three months and put your house in order,” said Mr Mundida.
He said the Global fund was worried about the lack of commitment to counterpart financing. Mr Mundida noted that the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria’s impression is that if NAC does not receive that money, Zimbabwe might receive less than half of the money from the forthcoming replenishment exercise.
“As CSOs you should talk to the Ministry of Finance to give us a deadline that by such a date they can give the US$6 million that National Aids Council owes its suppliers. The impression from Global Fund is that if you don’t pay the US$6 million very soon don’t be surprised if you get less than 50 percent of what we are allocating because there is no willingness to pay. So these are the real issues,” he said.
The CCM Coordinator explained that Zimbabwe has nothing to show for its counterpart financing promise.
“We need Government to release the money for NAC which is locked away at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Global Fund is saying Zimbabwe should commit to its counterpart financing grant. Every time we write a grant we make a commitment that we can commit this much. So Global Fund is saying how far have you gone in meeting your promise?
“If we give you US$506 million you can commit 15 percent. They just want receipts. There is nothing to show. Where are the receipts? Because we are going to the next replenishment. When they go to the replenishment they are going to ask what have been the contributions of other countries,” he said.
He also rubbished reports that there is a smart plan to avert the impending ARV shortage.
he number of Zimbabweans taking ARVs currently stands at about 1,2 million with the prevalence rate still at 14, 7 percent.

In December last year, NAC revealed to a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health that they received US$6 million worth of drugs from foreign suppliers, an amount they were struggling to settle following government’s move to separate local bond note accounts and Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs) which left most local pharmacies and government institutions stranded.

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