Global Fund grants Zimbabwe $37.9 mln to fight AIDS
* Tsvangirai says grant sign of confidence in new govt
* UN agency to manage funds
* Funds will also go to malaria, TB programmes
HARARE, Aug 7 (Reuters) - The Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria on Friday granted Zimbabwe $37.9 million, resuming support after getting assurances from the new unity government that the money would not be misused.
The fund said last year Zimbabwe's central bank had confiscated $7.3 million in 2007 meant for health programmes. The central bank has since returned the money, Global Fund officials said.
The head of the Global Fund's Africa Unit, Fareed Abdullah, said the money, previously managed by the state-appointed National Aids Council, would now be overseen by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Zimbabwe.
"We're glad that today marks a turning point in the relationship between Zimbabwe and the Global Fund, after the troubled history of the past 18 months," Abdullah said at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
"The reason behind getting the UNDP as the principal recipient is to do with that history, no doubt."
Abdullah said apart from helping in the fight against HIV/Aids, the money would also be committed to tuberculosis and malaria programmes.
Tsvangirai said the grant showed increasing confidence in the unity government he formed with rival President Robert Mugabe in February in a bid to end a political and economic crisis.
"There have been a number of skeptics. I can assure you that this government is indeed consolidating and is beginning to respond to the needs of the people, he said.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, although the rate has been coming down in recent years.
The country's economic woes -- which critics blame on Mugabe's policies -- have destroyed the public health system, a factor highlighted by last year's cholera outbreak which killed almost 5,000 people. (Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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