Health Ministry disputes report on transparency benchmarks for AIDS programme funding

The Ministry of Health yesterday sought to set the record straight about funding for its AIDS programme from The Global Fund, which was reported to be hinged on transparency benchmarks.

“The funding being hinged on “transparency benchmarks” as stated in the Kaieteur News is incorrect and mischievous,” the Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The newspaper reported that funding for programmes to combat HIV/AIDS, over the next two years, had been approved by The Global Fund but a final green light depends on Guyana ensuring greater transparency in the procurement of medical supplies.

Head of the National AIDS Programme Secretariat Dr Shanti Singh explained that The Global Fund has indeed approved a US$9M grant for Guyana but added that the claim that the country has to meet procurement guidelines was false.

Singh said procurement of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) for the Guyana programme is not done by Guyana, which only supplies a list of the drugs needed for the programme and these are then delivered.

This is because Guyana is signatory to The Global Fund’s Voluntary Pooled Procurement strategy.

Singh pointed out that those who receive grants from The Global Fund must satisfy certain eligibility requirements, which Guyana has. “Globally… all principal recipients (PR) of The Global Fund are guided by clear benchmarks for transparency that have been established. During the process of applying for a country grant, countries are required to satisfy The Global Fund on issues of transparency and accountability as part of the eligibility criteria for a concept note for which Guyana complied,” she said.

“If a country does not pass the first phase a grant is not approved. There is no specific recommendation on transparency that Guyana has to comply with for the remainder of the funds to be released as the HIV programme has always been transparent in its actions,” she added.

A Ministry of Health statement says that Guyana was the second country in the region to be approved under a new funding model.

Further, it notes that governance of all Global Fund grants is given from the Guyana Country Coordinating Mechanism, which is an independent body comprising of representatives from donors and partners, civil society organisations, the community of people living with and affected by HIV and government, among others.

The Ministry of Health also said any information on the Guyana Global Fund HIV grant can be accessed online at www.theglobalfund.org.

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