US and South African government officials recently agreed to terms detailing how the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program will draw down its South African support and shift funds from service delivery to technical assistance. Now, the Department of Health has secured grant extensions for some PEPFAR-assisted projects, giving their managing organizations enough time to make alternative plans so that no patients are affected.
Since 2003, the United States has been South Africa’s largest HIV/AIDS donor, contributing $3.2 billion. By 2017, annual US grants to South Africa will decline to $250 million from the current fiscal year’s $484 million.
Some nongovernmental organizations will see their five-year PEPFAR grants end with the closing of the US fiscal year next month, prompting the urgent need to secure funding to continue their HIV/AIDS services.
Yogan Pillay, the health department’s deputy director-general for strategic health programs, said grant extensions have been arranged for NGOs until January. “The immediate [priority] is to ensure no patient is worse off than they were under PEPFAR,” said Pillay.
“PEPFAR funding will not decline significantly immediately, but in three to five years,” said Mark Blecher, the Treasury’s director for social services. “So changes to the funding of specific NGOs now are probably more due to specific business cases that may have or have not been approved by PEPFAR, based on its own internal funding policy.”
Both US and South African officials have promised that the shift in priorities will be carefully managed to protect patients. “This is a five-year timeframe [and] provides enough time to work together to make sure there is no break in services,” said James Maloney, deputy PEPFAR coordinator for South Africa.
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