August 24, 2011
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is unfreezing hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to China, effective immediately, as it begins talks with officials there, the fund announced Tuesday.
In November, the Global Fund stopped payments on a $283 million AIDS grant upon learning the government gave independent groups less than an agreed-upon share. In May, the fund froze all other Chinese grants over concerns about how the money was being used by thousands of counties.
The Global Fund will work with representatives from private groups, the UN and government authorities to resolve the dispute, the fund said. China provides most of the money it uses to fight the three diseases, the organization noted. A favorable resolution could unlock $300 million over the next several years for HIV prevention and treatment among sex workers, injection drug users, and others, as well as for TB and malaria.
"During these discussions, the parties agreed to resume funding flows to ensure that the Chinese AIDS program would not be impeded by the ongoing efforts to strengthen fiduciary controls and to ensure sufficient civil society engagement in the Global Fund-supported programs," said Jon Liden, a fund spokesperson. "China and the Global Fund will continue to work closely together to tighten fiduciary controls and ensure that programs are as effective as possible in combating the three diseases."
The fund did not detail specific actions China took to trigger the resumption of grant payments. However, Health Minister Chen Zu met with community AIDS advocates in June and promised the ministry's support in assisting private groups. And in late July, a government contract from China's disease control agency stipulated that 25 percent of Global Fund money would be allocated to civil society groups and would be overseen by a separate authority.