By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Namibia’s praiseworthy health programmes against preventable diseases, has resulted in government being granted approximately N$59.5 million (US$8.5 million) by the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. The grant meant for Strengthening Malaria Control Intervention was signed on the first day – yesterday – of the Southern Africa Regional Meeting of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria in Windhoek. This is the sixth time that Namibia gets a grant from the Global Fund, amounting to approximately N$896ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â million (US$128ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â million). For Namibia’s health sector, this welcome boost comes well in line with the ongoing regional meeting where close to 200 southern African regional and international participants are sharing ideas and innovative ways on enhanced health programme delivery. The meeting, which concludes tomorrow (Thursday) is being held under the theme “Sharing Innovative Solutions for Enhanced Programme Delivery.” Officially opening the regional cluster meeting, Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, noted that Namibia has made great strides in mitigating preventable diseases like HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria, with assistance from the Global Fund. “The Global Fund support has made a big difference in the lives of many people in the past two years. We are satisfied with the way the Global Fund and the Principal Recipient expedite the release of funds timeously for the implementation of programmes,” he said. As a result, increasing numbers of patients are gaining access to prevention, care and support. While the country’s National Strategic Plan for HIV/Aids for 2004 to 2009 set the number of people on HIV/Aids treatment at 20ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000, the number has now shot up to 34ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000. Kamwi added that, despite weak global response on Tuberculosis, the health sector has made good progress in treating this disease, alongside malaria. “The spraying of dwellings with DDT is gaining much support from the international community. I personally led a team of fellow SADC Health Ministers here in Namibia during SADC Malaria Day last year in spraying a number of homesteads. Thus, on the malaria front, we are also making progress,” explained Kamwi. He added, however, that more still needs to be done for TB patients to have easy access to medicine. Director of Operations of the Global Fund, Dr Nosa Orobaton, said there has been a slow pace of disbursing funds for health care delivery. In view of this situation, more needs to be done to speed up and improve the quality of scale for health programmes in southern Africa. “In 2006, out of a projected US$250ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â million set aside for the region, only US$180ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â million was disbursed to grantees. This is not enough. In 2007, we have set aside another US$300ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â million for disbursement – unless funds are effectively disbursed on a large scale, our efforts will fall short of the expectations of the people”. He urged member countries to be bold and innovative in implementing their programmes as the demand for health care increases worldwide for TB, Malaria and HIV/Aids. Vice-Chairperson of the Global Fund Board, Elizabeth Mataka, stated: “The burden of care and prevention is spread on a community level. So come up with an innovative programme, and prove it works”. Orobaton revealed that Global Fund has US$3,5ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â billion to disburse from a pool of about US$7ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â million. During its last Global Fund board meeting, there was a high level of optimism and promise for the mission of the fund. All that remains is for countries to be pro-active and to boldly come up with innovative solutions for enhanced health programme delivery. Besides Namibia, countries that have sent delegates are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established in 2002, with the support of the world’s leaders and the United Nations. Its aim is to dramatically increase resources to fight three of the world’s most devastating diseases, and to direct those resources to areas of greatest need by supporting locally driven strategies. The Fund’s sole purpose is to raise funds and make grants to countries, organizations and communities that urgently need financial help to allow them to respond to these epidemics. To date, the Global Fund has committed US$7ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â billion to 460 programmes in 136 countries.