Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank has released 7.3 million dollars (5.7 million euros) in unspent aid money meant to fight diseases, which was taken from commercial banks last year, the Global Fund said Friday. The Geneva-based body had demanded the immediate return of the money that the central bank had scooped up with a requirement that all foreign currency be lodged in its coffers.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe released the money -- meant to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria -- late Thursday night, the Fund said in a statement.
"We expect that this signals a more effective way of working in Zimbabwe, accelerating delivery of interventions against the three diseases in the country," the Global Fund's executive director Michel Kazatchkine said.
The bank will also allow the Fund's beneficiaries to use US dollars in Zimbabwe, thus by-passing exchange rate risks in the country's hyper-inflationary environment.
The 7.3 million dollars is part of a 12.3-million-dollar grant that health programmes had not been able to use since the reserve bank moved foreign currency into its accounts.
Zimbabwe's former model economy has collapsed over the past decade, with chronic shortages of basic foodstuffs, fuel and foreign exchange. Inflation hit 213 million percent in July.
The Geneva-based Global Fund is a partnership between governments, non-government groups and the private sector set up to secure funding to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.