Our own should manage Global Funds, Civil Society

1 May, 2011, Esther Nakkazi

Uganda Civil Society wants TASO to manage Global Fund

Uganda may not get value for money from the funds dispatched by the Global Fund under Round 7 phase II under the ministry of Health, Civil Society Organisations say.

Described as a repeat of the 2005 Global Fund mismanagement typical of the Ministry, CSO insist that a civil society organisation like The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO), with branches all over the country has the capacity to undertake big work and handle funds, would do a better job than the Ministry of Health.[frax09alpha]

“We were consulted and we insisted that our own TASO should handle these funds. The Ministry of Health is not civil society friendly,” said Flavia Kyomukama, the national coordinator Global Coalition of Women against AIDS in Uganda.

According to Kyomukama, TASO was prequalified and supposed to do the administration and management of funds but now they are left with only the paper work.

“That money will not be used for its purpose if it remains with the ministry of health. All money handled by government is messed up. Even money that was allocated for TB has not been released yet the project ends in May this year,” said Kyomukama.

Infact, the Fund managers have complained that corruption is not the only factor that has reduced the Fund’s impact. “Sometimes, incompetence or laziness come into play,” according to Aidspan newsletter.

In Uganda’s instance there was so little activity by grant implementers for Round 7 with no disbursement made over a three-year phase 2 periods.

“How many lives were saved during that period? None. And what did the Fund do to highlight this problem on the website pages for the relevant country? Nothing,” said the January 2011 http://www.aidspan.org/gfo Newsletter.

But ministry of Health officials said the $70.2 million that was given by the Fund under round 7 Phase II was mostly for procurement of anti-retroviral drugs, test kits and other products.

Apparently, TASO emerged second best after Uganda Aids Commission (UAC) in the bid to manage the non-government sector grant manage part of the Round 7 phase II funds.

“If we are to set standards for procurement and treatment, it is only the ministry of Health and the Uganda National Drug Authority mandated to undertake these tasks,” said Jim Arinaitwe, the Global Fund Coordinator, Uganda Aids Commission (UAC).

“It is a question of mandate and policy but also by design and people need to understand the design of the matter.” The procurement cycle takes 7-8 months and the first trance of the money only arrived by May 2010.

And, although the funds were available, the Global Fund required that Uganda developed a national Monitoring and Evaluation model as well a national training curriculum, which has been done and sent to Geneva by 1st April so ‘everything is on time’.

“We are trying to do it right and I agree that there are some problems because our supply chain is not efficient. But we think the Global Fund wants to do our procurement which we have resisted,” said an official from the ministry.

According to him, the Global Fund wants to do the procurement under the Voluntary Pooled Procurement (VVP), a central pool, as they have done with malaria supplies.

“When shall we get out of this cycle if we do not take up these challenges. We need these opportunities to learn how to make our supply chain more efficient.”

“The Fund is almost impossible to work with, when you rush and use the money they have issues and civil society does not seem to understand procedure they only wan tot run to the media”

The Aids Support Organization (TASO) has a duty to make sure that all CSO approved implement the project activities. Currently, they have completed a countrywide assessment of the CSOs and are compiling a report.

The report to be released in April will have results of the due diligence showing how many CSOs have closed shop and establishing their physical addresses as well as their membership.

“We have completed evaluation of the civil society organizations. We have a report that shall be released soon,” said Dick Muhwezi a manager at TASO. TASO is acting as a grants management agent for the ministry of Health in Round 7.

By December 2010, programmes supported by the Global Fund were providing antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to 3.0 million people living with HIV, an increase of 20% compared to December 2009, according to data provided by the Fund.

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