With less than two months left before the year is out, tuberculosis carriers in Kyrgyzstan are counting the days before foreign funding runs out for the treatment they require.
At the root of their plight are the theft of foreign aid by government officials and the apparent reluctance of authorities to return the misappropriated cash.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — a donor organization that sources its financing from governments and philanthropists — overall has paid out $47 million to Kyrgyzstan. Since 2010, the fund has provided $5.6 million for research, training to improve diagnosis of tuberculosis, and infrastructure to help sufferers.
Those resources used to be handled by the government. But in 2010, administration of the funds was handed over to the United Nations Development Program after an audit found evidence of sketchy financial practices. The investigation, carried out in 2009, showed that $120,000 had been improperly pocketed by Kyrgyz public officials for personal use — $40,000 was earmarked for HIV programs and the remainder for tuberculosis.
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Anna Lelik is a Bishkek-based reporter.