Madagascar is cutting funding to 200 local charities fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic, accusing them of mismanaging aid money, the government said on Tuesday.
Executive Secretary of the National AIDS Committee Fenosoa Ratsimanetrimanana told journalists that charities were cashing in on World Bank money and failing to account for funding to fight the spread of the virus.
“Some associations see the fight against AIDS as an easy source of income and do not respect the rules of efficiency,” Ratsimanetrimanana said. “Two hundred of these organisations will have their financing stopped.”
The government says there are 2,000 different AIDS organisations operating in the Indian Ocean island of 17 million people, which is the size of France.
Africa is home to 25 million of the world’s 38 million people living with HIV/AIDS, but only about 310,000 people are receiving life-prolonging treatment in sub-Saharan Africa.
Last July, the World Bank gave Madagascar $30 million to spend on containing HIV/AIDS and halting other sexually transmitted diseases as part of a $240 million development package for the impoverished island.
“Lots of associations are rushing to the campaign against AIDS to get a piece of the money. Some destroy their HIV detection equipment after three months so they can profit from buying it anew,” Ratsimanetrimanana said.
The World Health Organisation estimates the rate of HIV prevalence in Madagascar at 1.1 percent - much lower than the rest of the continent.
Some HIV/AIDS workers think this figure may be too low, but non-governmental organisations (NGOs) focused on the pandemic say they are keen to prevent the disease from spreading further.
Health Minister Jean-Louis Robinson said funding was often given for a project that was changed after funds were granted.
“Several associations do not respect the content of the project nor the management of the funds they are supplied with,” he said.
The struggle against HIV/AIDS in Africa has periodically been dogged by corruption, with so-called “briefcase NGOs” popping up solely to get cash from large aid programmes.
Last August, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria halted millions of dollars of aid to Uganda because of what it called “inappropriate expenditure and improper accounting” of funding meant to tackle HIV/AIDS.
Revision date: July 6, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD