8 Aug 2009

Zimbabwe granted $US37 million to fight Aids

2:17 pm on 8 August 2009

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria has granted Zimbabwe $US37.9 million, resuming support after getting assurances from the new unity government that the money would not be misused.

The fund said last year that Zimbabwe's central bank had confiscated $US7.3 million in 2007 meant for health programmes. Officials say the central bank has since returned the money.

The money, previously managed by the state-appointed National Aids Council, would now be overseen by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Zimbabwe, a fund official said.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, although the rate has been coming down in recent years.

The country's economic woes, which critics blame on Mr Mugabe's policies, have destroyed the public health system, a factor highlighted by last year's cholera outbreak which killed almost 5,000 people.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the grant showed increasing confidence in the unity government he formed with rival President Robert Mugabe in February in a bid to end a political and economic crisis.