Global Fund budget cuts affect gains in HIV fight

Saturday May 30 2020

 

By Louis Kolumbia

Dar es Salaam. HIV/Aids services are among areas that will be adversely affected by the global health financier, Global Fund (GF)’s decision to significantly cut support to Tanzania’s 2020/21 Health budget, according to an analysis by the health advocacy NGO ‘Sikika.’

Sikika’s analysis shows that the Global Fund’s contribution to the Health ministry’s development has declined by 79.5 percent, dropping from Sh224 billion in the 2019/20 fiscal year to Sh46 billion allocated in the 2020/21 financial year.

US President Donald Trump’s 2021 financial year budget request proposed sweeping budget cuts for global health financing. This was going to affect largest entities working to reduce deaths and illnesses from malaria: the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).

The Sikika analysis was presented yesterday during the Policy Forum virtual debate dubbed: ‘2020/21 Health Budget ‘adapting to new realities in the wake of Covid-19.’

Allocation made in the 2020/21 fiscal year was equivalent to 41 percent as compared to 12.7 percent set in the 2019/20 financial year to fund the ministry’s development budget.

Sikika’s head of Health Governance and Finance department, Mr Daniel Mugizi, said the decline will seriously impact the HIV/Aids sector.

Advertisement

“This is because allocations made for development budget has decreased by 66 percent from Sh120 billion in the 2019/20 financial year to Sh40 billion in the 2020/21 fiscal year,” he said.

According to him, the impact on HIV/Aids amounted to a 78.6 percent decline in allocations from the Global Fund from Sh118 billion set aside in the 2019/20 to Sh25 billion in the 2020/21 fiscal year.

He said the decrease will mainly impact the HIV/Aids control programs in the health ministry.

“This poses a potential risk of funding gap in the HIV/Aids sector that may disrupt progress recorded in halting the spread of the virus,” he said.

However, he said the total allocation to the health sector for both recurrent and development has slightly increased due to the government’s efforts to increase allocations in the areas.

He said the government’s efforts have been complimented by increased allocations from other development partners to fund the ministry’s development.

Tabling the 2020/21 fiscal year budget, Health minister Ummy Mwalimu said Sh900 billion would be used for recurrent and implementation of development projects.

She said Sh246 billion was intended to be used for procurement and distribution of medicine, equipment, medical equipment and reagents.

According to her, Sh46 billion out of Sh246 billion will be used for implementation of projects related to HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

According to Child rights governance specialist from Save the Children International in Tanzania, Ms Neema Bwaira, Sh440 billion allocated in the 2020/21 budget for strengthening national readiness programme to deal with epidemics, accidents and disasters including Covid-19 was low.

“It’s obvious that projected revenue collections in the second half of the 2019/20 fiscal year will be highly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. This is despite recording Sh10.62 trillion collections from July 2019 to January 2020 - and it will create another funding gap,” she said.

She suggested that the government should take several measures to close the gap including tax payment flexibility; suspending debt payments; shielding the private sector; suspending implementation of large strategic projects and provision of credit guarantees and additional loans to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Health minister Ummy Mwalimu couldn’t be reached yesterday for comment. The Chief Medical Officer, Abel Makubi, said he wasn’t aware of the matter.