13 August 2004
Geneva, 13 August – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria today signed a grant agreement worth US$7 million over two years for a tuberculosis program in Myanmar. Myanmar is one of the world’s 22 high-burden countries for tuberculosis, with 80,000 new cases of the life-threatening disease every year.
The grant will strengthen and scale up the national TB program, expanding it to regions not yet covered. The aim is to improve case detection among estimated new smear-positive cases to at least 75 percent by 2006, and to maintain and improve the treatment success rate among new smear-positive cases registered to 85 percent or more.
“The people of Myanmar have for years suffered from poverty, neglect and isolation,” says Richard Feachem, the Executive Director of the Global Fund. “I am very pleased that we are able to channel funds to them which will help fight tuberculosis, a major disease problem in Myanmar.”
The Principal Recipient of the grant is the United Nations Development Programme, which will manage all finances and procurements. (The grant does not include drug procurements, since Myanmar already receives drugs through WHO’s Global TB Drug Facility.)
Additional safeguards have been put in place to ensure that all funds are used for activities specified in the grant agreement and will directly benefit the population of Myanmar. The grant is designed so that the central government of Myanmar will not have access to or benefit from any funds. A technical working group comprising UN agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations and Ministry of Health Representatives will provide additional oversight of program implementation alongside the Global Fund’s regular Local Fund Agent (a contracted entity which verifies recipients’ reports on behalf of the Global Fund).
“We have an Additional Safeguards Policy for countries where extra precautions are needed to guarantee that our money reaches those who need it,” says Dr Feachem. “It enables us to operate safely in areas which may receive little or no outside assistance with confidence that the money will help people on the ground.”
The Global Fund has approved two other grants to Myanmar – a US$19 million grant to fight HIV/AIDS and a US$9 million grant for treatment and prevention of malaria. Grant agreements for these are expected to be ready in the coming months.