The signing of the framework agreement between the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) and Global Funds has been pending for the last six months. It is feared that any further delay could cause financial difficulties to Pakistan’s National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Malaria Control Programme and National AIDs Control Programme
The three-year framework for global funding for the three programmes, was to be agreed between the EAD and Global Funds in December last year. It still, however, remains pending, said an official at the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) on the condition of anonymity.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the official said currently Pakistan has funding for these programmes till 2016. However issues will arise once funding dries up and no conclusive future agreement will have been reached, said the official.
Pakistan is the principal recipient of Global Fund to fight against Malaria, TB and HIV/AIDs since 2002.
The official said Pakistan, once the agreement is signed, will be getting US$ 52 million for three years to fight against Malaria from Global Funds.
“It is not possible to run malaria control programme without foreign funding. The government does not invest in these programmes because of which we are still in the phase of controlling the disease. Iran, on the other hand, has already reached the stage of eliminating the disease,” he said.
After the devolution of the Ministry of Health under the 18th Amendment, Malaria Control Programme became a provincial subject. It requires government to invest Rs33 billion for four years but sadly it is hardly giving Rs500 million, said the official.
According to official statistics currently 177 million people in Pakistan are at risk of suffering from Malaria. There are around 3.5 million presumed and confirmed malaria cases every year which in itself is worrisome.
Pakistan accounts for 43.2% of the population at high risk of malaria in the Eastern Mediterranean Region of WHO. It accounts for 23.4% of the confirmed cases in the same region.
Meanwhile it is estimated that every year 420,000 new TB cases emerge in Pakistan, It accounts for 61% of the TB burden in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region.
When contacted, Director General Ministry of NHSRC Dr Asad Hafeez said it is a routine document and will take some time to be signed. He said it is in the transition period. Since ministries and departments are involved in this process, therefore it is expected to take time.
Dr Hafeez was of the view that the delay will not cause any of these programmes to suffer financially as they are on extension and getting funding accordingly.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2015.
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