The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria says it has cut off a malaria grant to Senegal because of the country's poor performance in fighting the disease.
Two years ago, the Global Fund awarded Senegal a five-year grant of more than $7 million to fight malaria. The Fund's Board just met to assess the progress made during this period by the first 24 beneficiary countries.
Spokesman, Jon Liden, says the Global Fund has limited resources and the board wants to make sure the money it hands out is being spent in a way that saves lives.
"In the case of the Senegal malaria grant, that was not happening at the rate of progress that we could be satisfied with," said Mr. Liden. "In many grants we have some signs of slow progress. So, we are not being draconian about this. But, with the malaria grant to Senegal there were some fatal flaws ... So we thought there was no hope for this grant."
Mr. Liden explains Senegal's Ministry of Health was very slow in implementing its anti-malaria schemes. He says it also was not communicating properly with the private aid agencies that were supposed to carry out these projects. He says this is unfortunate because Senegal has a very severe malaria problem.
About 20 percent of all cases are acute, resulting in many deaths.
The Fund was created in 2002 to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It receives money from both government and private sources. So far, it has disbursed more than $3 billion to 127 countries.
Mr. Liden says half of the first 24 countries that have just come under review are in Africa. He says more than 90 percent of all these countries have made good progress and have had their grants approved for the next three-year period.
Besides malaria funding for Senegal, he says HIV/AIDS grants to Senegal and Laos also are in doubt and are currently under review. He says money is in short supply so it can only be given to those countries that will use it wisely and well.
"So, we need to be just very clear that we fund interventions that reach people and save lives. We do not fund bureaucracies or organizations that are not able to get results on the ground," added Mr. Liden. "So, when we pull a grant from a country, as we have done in the case of Senegal, that is not a slap on the wrist of the country. On the contrary, we are very concerned that the people of Senegal get effective malaria treatment. And, with this current program, that was not possible. So, we are looking at ways of doing it again."
Mr. Liden says Senegal should not be discouraged by having had its grant pulled. He says the Board would like the government to fix its problems and reapply for funding in future rounds.