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posted Friday, June 18, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 25
Zambia loses AIDS funding because of corruption
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Zambia loses AIDS funding because of corruption

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Global Fund announced on June 16 that it was suspending more than $300 million in health funding to the African country of Zambia.

The money would have gone to help Zambia fight AIDS and other infectious diseases.

Global Fund Director of Communications John Liden told BBC News that the fund was concerned about corruption in Zambia's Health Ministry.

Liden said the Health Ministry had failed to take steps to investigate and halt internal corruption even though it had repeatedly been warned to do so.

"We have identified a set of individuals, we have alerted Zambian government authorities about this," Liden said.

"We have repeatedly asked for action, there has been slowness in action on the Zambian side.

"That's one of the reasons we feel we do not have confidence that the Ministry of Health, at this stage, can continue to channel funding of this magnitude for health in Zambia."

Liden assured BBC News that "life-saving treatments" were not in jeopardy.

Foreign assistance is crucial to sustaining Zambia's healthcare programs.

Some 10% of Zambian adults are believed to be HIV-positive. Fifty-five percent of Zambia's population lives on less than $2 per day.

The Global Fund keeps a close eye on local health officials in the countries it assists. It suspended aid to Uganda five years ago for "serious mismanagement of its funds."

Zambia has also lost other aid because of corruption charges. Sweden and the Netherlands stopped $30 million in health aid last year, and the European Union halted road-building funds.

The Global Fund was set up in 2002 under the direction of then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

It has distributed more than $19 billion in aid, especially targeting HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

The Global Fund gets its money from government and private sources in the industrialized world, and then directs it toward the world's poorest nations, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is estimated that the fund has helped save more than five million lives.

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