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Acid test for Kenya as Global Fund releases Sh30b

By - GATONYE GATHURA | October 21st 2013


KENYA: Kenya is to receive about Sh30 billion from the Global Fund in a run that will test whether the new cabinet secretaries for Health and Treasury are capable of protecting donor money from entrenched thieving cartels.

Already, Sh5 billion (US$63m) of the money has been approved by the fund and the rest, US$300m, will be available next year to cover HIV, malaria and tuberculosis programmes.

This money compares well with the Sh34 billion budgeted for running the Ministry of Health at the national level this year.

These are delayed funds denied to the country in the past because of poor absorption capacity or accountability issues and will cover a three-year period while the Global Fund puts in place a new financing mechanism.

In an exclusive interview with The Standard at the Global Fund headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday, the organisation’s senior fund portfolio manager for Kenya, John Ochero, said reviews of the country’s performance done earlier in the year had shown very good performance.

“We were especially impressed by the country’s performance in HIV programmes, with scores ranging as high as A1. We don’t anticipate any serious divergence from the current trends, which means these funds will definitely be approved.”

In the past, Kenyan’s relationship with the fund has been an on-and-off affair because of misuse of funds and sometimes duplication of functions by parallel programmes in the previous system of two health ministries.

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Good efforts

“We know some of these monies are still being recovered from Kenya but we don’t want to punish the current good efforts for past mistakes,” said Mr Ochero.

The Global Fund, which is on a new charm offensive to convince potential donors that the world is on the threshold of turning the three diseases into low level epidemics, wants recipient governments to put more money and political will into these programmes.

During the launch of the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey report, the fund’s senior officials had held talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta who is being courted to become a champion of HIV and also influence more local funding for the health sector.

Already, a bill for presentation to Parliament has been prepared, which proposes to turn the National Aids Control Council (NACC) into an independent authority, along the lines of a parastatal, which will be funded by the Treasury and from special taxes.

Administrative changes made by the new Health Cabinet Secretary, James Macharia, a fortnight ago promoted the then head of Nascop, Dr William Maina, to head the powerful docket of the Division for Disease Control.

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