… stop using the illness as a cash cow
By Alvine Kapitako
WINDHOEK – Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other donor fund beneficiacries have been admonished to refrain from pocketing funds intended to benefit people living with HIV/AIDS.
Sounding the warning yesterday was the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, who spoke at the first HIV sustainability investment conference hosted by the Namibia Network of AIDS Service Organisations.
Kamwi said: “On a bitter note I am concerned that over time I have witnessed a fair share of some irregularities that are taking place in the management of public funds amongst non-governmental organisations. This is a bitter pill to swallow. In most cases resources planned to benefit vulnerable members of our communities end up in the pockets of some selfish individuals and this must stop.”
Kamwi said the funds the country receives from the Global Fund or the American President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS (PEPFAR) are intended to benefit HIV positive Namibians. About 45% of the HIV/AIDS resources are from the Global Fund and PEPFAR and government accounts for the remaining 55%, said Kamwi.
“These funds are not meant to come and enrich the Nchabi Kamwi’s of the day, absolutely not, that is not the intended objective,” he cautioned firmly. The minister referred to Uganda that was once a shining example in the HIV/AIDS response on the African continent.
“Are they still a shining example?” asked Kamwi, to which the audience responded “no”. The minister went on to make his point. “They enriched themselves, going abroad flying from Kampala to go and study in Cape Town using the Global Fund’s resources,” he said.
Kamwi warned that the Global Fund has auditors who audit how every cent is used.
“If they find out that the money has been pocketed the Global Fund will stop the money,” he said, adding that not only the individuals who are enriching themselves would stop benefiting from the resources but also the intended beneficiaries.
“It is for this reason that I am calling on all of you – let us be watchdogs for each other, let us advise each other, let us not abuse these resources because once they are abused it is not only you but the nation that will suffer. We need to stop resource wastage and reach out our interventions of such corrupt and selfish individuals who use HIV/AIDS as a cash cow. These individuals have no heart and compassion for the vulnerable and must therefore not be entrusted with public funds,” a really disturbed Kamwi stated.
Furthermore, Kamwi who also made reference to dwindling donor funds to developing nations said it is important to be more innovative and improve on cooperation and collaboration of efforts as implementers. “We need to invest for results and ensure that every dollar spent impacts positively on the lives of our people. Our efforts must be people centred in order to ensure sustainable profits,” he stressed.