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Global Fund money for HIV/AIDS rejected for southern Sudan

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NAIROBI, Oct. 24, 2003 (IRIN) — Northern Sudan is to receive over US $20.7 million for HIV/AIDS related activities from the UN’s Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, while a funding proposal for the south has been rejected for the second time.

The latest proposal for the south was submitted in May 2003 by a consortium of agencies working in the region, the southern sector of the Country Coordinating Mechanism.

A previous HIV/AIDS proposal was rejected in 2002, while over US $18 million was approved by the Global Fund last January - but not yet disbursed - for activities related to tuberculosis and malaria in southern Sudan.

The US $20.781 for northern Sudan is to be disbursed over five years, on top of US $14.2 million for malaria.

A spokesman for the Global Fund, Tim Clark, told IRIN that reasons for the rejection would not be made public, but the applicants themselves would be informed in detail. "We do all we can to encourage reapplication and hope that it will be successful," he said. He added that the fund did not have the capacity or the staff to give technical advice to applicants.

"It is unquestionably an almost unique opportunity to stop the epidemic before its starts in earnest," commented Ben Parker, spokesman for the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan. "We hope that other funding can be mobilised in time to seize the opportunity."

The adult prevalence rate of HIV infection for the whole country is estimated at 2.6 percent, but there are regional variations with higher prevalence rates in the southern and eastern states, Khartoum State and the White Nile State, according to the Global Fund.

Once a peace deal has been signed and mobility increases, observers fear that prevalence rates will rise dramatically, especially as people return from refugee camps in Kenya (home to almost 60,000), Uganda (over 223,000), Ethiopia (over 88,000), and many of Sudan’s 3 million to 4 million internally displaced move home.

Efforts to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Sudan have so far been characterised by denial and misconceptions, says the Global Fund on its website. While the political commitment and environment have improved a lot in the last two years, until recently the mistaken belief was that Sudan was "a conservative country and, as such, it was naturally protected from the epidemic".

The next funding applications are to come up for approval by the Global Fund in June 2004.

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