Malawi President Peter Mutharika said the country had received a grant of $332 million (292 million euros) to fight AIDS and other diseases, bringing much-needed support to a nation wrestling with public health problems. Malawi has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, straining the impoverished country’s healthcare system and economy.
Mutharika accepted the grant from international aid organization, The Global Fund in Lilongwe, Malawi’s administrative capital. The president said the bulk of the money would be used to procure anti-retroviral drugs while the rest would go toward combating malaria and tuberculosis.
“This is the largest allocation to any country in the world and we are grateful for this,” Mutharika said in a statement after receiving the grant.
The grant would enable Malawi to provide HIV treatment for 745,000 patients by the end of 2017, The Global Fund said in a statement. The money came from donors including the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
While Malawi has made significant gains in combating AIDS, it still registers hundreds of new HIV infections every week. Malawi has trimmed the national HIV prevalence rate from over 12% in 2004 to 10% in 2014.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (often called The Global Fund or GFATM) is an international financing organization that aims to attract and disburse additional resources to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. A public–private partnership, the organization has its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization began operations in January 2002. Microsoft founder Bill Gates Foundation was one of the first private foundations among many bilateral donors to provide seed money for the project. It’s the world’s largest financier of anti-AIDS, TB and malaria programs and by mid-2012 has approved funding of USD $22.9 billion that supports more than 1,000 programs in 151 countries.
The Global Fund is a financing mechanism rather than an implementing agency. This means that monitoring of programs is supported by a Secretariat of approximately over 400 staff (as of mid-2012) in Geneva. Implementation is overseen by Country Coordinating Mechanisms, committees consisting of in-country stakeholders that need to include, according to GFATM requirements, a broad spectrum of government, NGOs, UN, faith-based, private sector and people living with the disease.
Malawi, officially the Republic of Malawi, is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. Its landmass is over 118,000 km2 (45,560 sq mi) with an estimated population of 16,777,547 (July 2013 est.) Its one of Africa smallest countries and has a democratic, multi-party government whose foreign policy is pro-Western and includes positive diplomatic relations with most countries and participation in several international organizations.
The economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population which requires the government to depend heavily on outside aid to meet development needs. The Malawian government faces challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, health care, environmental protection, and becoming financially independent. It has several programs developed since 2005 that focus on these issues, and the country’s outlook appears to be improving, with improvements in economic growth, education and healthcare seen in from 2007 till date.
Malawi has central hospitals, regional and private facilities. The public sector offers free health services and medicines, while non-government organizations (NGOs) offer services and medicines for fees. Private doctors offer fee-based services and medicines and health insurance schemes have been established since 2000.
There is a high adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 930,000 adults (or 11.9% of the population) living with the disease in 2007 which is a drain to government resources both on manpower and finances. There are approximately 68,000 deaths a year from HIV/AIDS (2007). Approximately 250 new people are infected each day, and at least 70% of Malawi’s hospital beds are occupied by HIV/AIDS patients. The high rate of infection has resulted in an estimated 5.8% of the farm labor force dying of the disease as the government spends over $120,000 each year on funerals for civil servants who die of the disease.
In 2006, international superstar Madonna started Raising Malawi, a foundation that helps AIDS orphans in Malawi, and also financed a documentary about the hardships experienced by Malawian orphans, called I Am Because We Are. Raising Malawi also worked with the Millennium Villages Project to improve education, health care, infrastructure and agriculture in Malawi.