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Zimbabwe Fund for AIDS Patients Is Frozen in Bureaucracy

August 20, 2001

Zimbabwe's plan for a 3 percent tax on personal and corporate income to fund a trust to help care for the country's thousands of citizens with HIV/AIDS was considered a bold step. But more than a year after the government began collecting the tax, most of the money raised sits unspent, mired in bureaucracy. The board of the National AIDS Council, a government agency that coordinates AIDS policy and was in charge of distributing the money, was dissolved in March after the Health Ministry decided that the council did not have the legal authority to manage the trust.

Zimbabwe has been hit hard by the AIDS epidemic. A new study conducted by the Health Ministry and the CDC reports that about 35 percent of the country's adults are now infected, according to Dr. P. David Parirenyatwa, deputy health minister. When the operations of the trust were effectively halted, only about $4 million had been distributed, and at least $25 million is waiting to be spent, said Parirenyatwa. No other country has an AIDS tax like Zimbabwe's, but some, like Cameroon, are using debt relief savings to expand their AIDS budgets, while others, like Botswana, have been able to allocate more of their own budgets to fight AIDS.

Dr. Sunanda Ray, director of the Southern Africa AIDS Information Dissemination Service in Harare, said many of Zimbabwe's problems in distributing the money could have been avoided and should have been corrected by now. "People are trying to provide services on a shoestring," Ray said, "and they are feeling the urgency, and it just seems outrageous that the bureaucrats are not able to respond."

Back to other CDC news for August 20, 2001

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Adapted from:
New York Times
08.19.01; Henri E. Cauvin

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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