The Technical Review Panel of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has recommended that Zimbabwe's Round 8 application to scale up HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis programs in the country be approved, IRIN/PlusNews reports. Zimbabwe's "relationship with the Global Fund has not been a rosy one," IRIN//PlusNews reports, adding that "in seven rounds of funding disbursements, Zimbabwe's applications have been successful in only two."

The TRP -- an independent group of health experts and academics that reviews all Global Fund applications -- has said Zimbabwe's application for at least $500 million is "technically sound." Zimbabwe's Country Coordinating Mechanism requested about $300 million for HIV/AIDS efforts, $58 million for TB programs and $80 million to improve the country's health sector. Douglas Gwatidzo, chair of the Zimbabwean Association of Doctors for Human Rights, said the decision to apply for health system strengthening was "very wise" because the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria programs will depend on the capacity of health systems. The Global Fund's board of directors will meet in New Delhi in November to review and approve Round 8 funding applications.

Zimbabwean Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said the country is "delighted" that TRP has recommended that Zimbabwe's application be approved because the country's "financial coffers had run dry" and additional funding would be a "welcome relief." Jon Liden, head of communications at the Global Fund, said that it would be "premature" to announce that the application would be approved in advance of November's board meeting. Gwatidzo agreed that it might be too early to assume approval, adding that Zimbabwe has an "urgent need of HIV/AIDS funding" and should seek alternative solutions while waiting for a possible Global Fund grant (IRIN/PlusNews, 10/24).

Zimbabwe has an HIV prevalence rate of about 15.3%, and about 1.3 million people in the country are HIV-positive. About 98,000 HIV-positive people in the country have access to no-cost HIV treatment provided by the government, but about 570,000 people are in need of antiretroviral drugs (GlobalHealthFacts)

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