Cambodia’s efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS over the past 15 years have won it praise, and put it well ahead of many other low-income countries. But some of those most involved in the fight against AIDS are worried that an array of challenges could see some of those gains undone.
For many years, Cambodia has relied on foreign donors to fund its largely successful fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2012, for example, 90 percent of the $50 million spent on combating the disease came from donors such as the Global Fund, the U.S. government and the Australian government. …
The Global Fund has threatened to suspend or reduce health grants to Cambodia totalling more than $100 million if the Ministry of Health, the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD (NCHADS) and NGO umbrella group MEDiCAM fail to meet a 30-day deadline to return funds identified as “misused” by a Global Fund probe.
In a letter sent to Health Minister Mam Bun Heng on December 9 and obtained yesterday by the Post, the Global Fund says that if $472,841 is not refunded within 30 days of that date, the fund may not proceed with, suspend or reduce grants totalling $106 million. The bulk of funds to be returned – $410,712 requested from the Health Ministry – relates to improper commissions received by senior officials at the National Malaria Center from international mosquito net suppliers between 2006 and 2012. …
Grants that could be affected come January 9 – the end of the 30-day deadline – include an HIV/AIDS grant worth $57 million, malaria-related grants worth about $28 million and a “Health Systems Strengthening Grant” worth almost $21 million.
Health NGOs yesterday said moves to suspend or reduce those grants could seriously affect programs addressing malaria and HIV/AIDS in the Kingdom. But despite the Global Fund’s tough words, the Health Ministry does not appear to be rushing to meet the deadline. …
Kevin Ponniah and Mom Kunthear