Progress in row that halted mainland grants
The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria says mainland officials have agreed to tackle issues that had held up hundreds of millions of US dollars in grants to public health projects.
The UN-backed body said funding could resume when officials had resolved problems with the handling of the money and inadequate involvement of grass-roots groups.
The fund started withholding payments for its Aids grants in November and for its tuberculosis and malaria grants a few weeks ago, spokesman Jon Liden said from Geneva. It withheld US$423 million because an audit report found 'a number of weaknesses that raise concerns about the overall quality of grant implementation in the country'.
The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a government agency in charge of handling the grants, had not fulfilled a pledge that 35 per cent would go to community-based organisations, he said. China Global Fund Watch, a Beijing-based NGO, said the figure was less than 11 per cent.
Global Fund and CDC officials met over two days in Beijing late last week to discuss what steps should be taken for the grants to resume.
Liden said one of the agreements reached was that there would be 'significantly stronger control put in place' on the 3,000 counties that receive money from the global fund.
'We were demanding, and the Chinese have agreed to tightening the financial reporting and control.'
The CDC also agreed to strengthen the implementation of all grants, including refunding money found to have been misspent, and involving community-based organisations in the management of the Aids grant.
'If this is not followed up, the money won't flow,' Liden said.
Mainland NGOs' workers even feared the fund might pull out of China. Liden said: 'The discussions in Beijing renewed the confidence that these grants will continue.'
The CDC has not responded to questions.
The amount, in US dollars, the mainland has received from the global fund since 2003
- It received US$112 million last year