Richard Feachem, who heads the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, this week told South African media that Pretoria is not distributing international grant money to organizations fighting AIDS. "It's intolerable that the money gets stuck in Pretoria, and if Pretoria can't move it for any reason, we will simply withdraw it and establish direct relationships with the people actually doing the work," Feachem said. The current dispute is but the latest to erupt between the nation and the global fund.
"Dr. Feachem has no right to threaten to reorganize arrangements between the fund and South Africa without establishing what the facts are," said a statement issued by South African health minister Manto Tshablala-Msimang, who expressed "surprise and disbelief" at Feachem's comments.
Following almost two years of disagreement over how the money would be distributed, South Africa last year signed a $41 million deal with the global fund. Contention centered chiefly on whether the money could be used to buy antiretrovirals and whether funds could be given directly to provinces and programs, rather than to the central government. On Tuesday, South African health officials said Pretoria is complying with the agreement's terms and distributing all money received to recipient groups and nongovernmental organizations. (Reuters)