South Africa: U.S. Puts Locals in Charge of AIDS Spending
February 12, 2010
For the first time since the US government started supporting an AIDS service project targeting rural South Africans, funds will be given directly to local partners rather than being funneled through Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
CRS will continue to provide monitoring, clinical and other services. "The person in charge, who is the local partner now, [will] decide what they need and they pay for it," said Ruth Stark, head of CRS in South Africa.
The move is seen as a cost-cutting tactic, replacing expensive international experts with local ones and, in the long run, avoiding the overhead costs associated with an international organization.
"The cost difference is huge," Stark said.
Groups working with CRS last year received more than $25 million in funding through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and a similar amount is expected this year. They include the AIDS office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Institute of Youth Development of South Africa, and St. Mary's Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.
Since 2004, the CRS effort has reached 73,000 South Africans and provided AIDS drugs to 35,000 of these patients. The project also serves AIDS orphans, Stark said.
South Africa has more HIV-positive people than any other country -- an estimated 5.7 million in a population of 50 million. It is the main recipient of PEPFAR funds.
02.04.2010; Donna Bryson