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NGOs regroup after fund rebuff

A homeless woman living with AIDS sleeps outside on a mattress in Daun Penh district last week.

Goverment and civil society representatives will meet on Friday to assess how to move forward after two proposals seeking millions of dollars from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria were rejected, Tia Phalla, deputy director of the National AIDS Authority, said yesterday.

The Country Coordinating Committee, chaired by Tia Phalla, submitted a proposal to the Global Fund for US$47.5 million over five years to fund efforts to reduce the number of new HIV infections, as well as a pitch for $13.2 million over five years to reduce the transmission of TB.

But the Global Fund, which last month gave out $1.7 billion to 64 countries covering 2011-12, apparently didn’t take to Cambodia’s two proposals and asked that they be revised and resubmitted for the next round.

Pieter van Maaren, who is country director for the World Health Organisation and serves as vice chair of the CCC, said he was “disappointed” in the result.

“I think the rejections of the proposals do not cause an immediate shortfall of funding. There are other means of filling gaps that may occur,” he said.

The panel’s criticisms of Cambodia’s proposals were “of a technical nature”, van Maaren said. But they have “sufficient material” to make a more successful proposal this year, he added.

Van Maaren said, however, that if the next proposal is not accepted, Cambodia will “face problems” in funding its technical programmes for TB and HIV.

A technical review panel composed of global health experts reviews each proposal and makes recommendations to the Global Fund’s board, which makes final decisions.

The Global Fund “cannot comment on specific proposals”, said Nalin Mehta, senior communications officer at the Geneva-based organisation.

But some organisations could feel the pinch this year.

The Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance receives about $1 million annually from the Global Fund, primarily for its work supporting orphans and children vulnerable to the disease, executive director Oum Sopheap said.

“I think thousands of orphans and vulnerable children will be affected,” he said, adding that funds for programs that assist about 12,000 children will run out in September.

Oum Sopheap said KHANA would try to “redesign” their programs, which help children access HIV/AIDS-related medical care, schooling and shelter, in order to save money.

Some have called on the government to step up its share of funding to battle HIV. Van Maaren said he expects it to increase, but Oum Sopheap was “not optimistic”.

Cambodia has received over $350 million over 10 years from the Global Fund.



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