TAC plans fundraising drive as crunch time looms

| Mary-Anne Gontsana
Since it was founded in 1998, the TAC has become the leading civil society force behind comprehensive health care services for people living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa. The organisation is now facing a funding crunch. Photo by Mary-Anne Gontsana.

Even though the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) faces the possibility of closing down due to a lack of funding, it says there is no need to worry yet.

At an AIDS conference held in Cape Town on Saturday, Section27’s director, Mark Heywood said the TAC needed donations to keep their doors open because of decreasing funding.

The TAC’s Marcus Low said there has been a reduction in funding over the past few years, and they have now been working on the past few months to raise funds. “From 1 November to 1 December we are planning a very big fundraising campaign which will involve the public. I don’t want to say much right now but it will be big,” said Low.

An official statement released by the TAC, said the organisation “would like to state that despite severe financial challenges, the TAC is not facing imminent closure. However if we have not raised the funding required by February 2015 we will have to make tough decisions.

“One reason for the funding crisis is that despite approximately 400,000 new HIV infections every year in South Africa, a 170,000 AIDS-related deaths, including an estimated 88,000 deaths per year of people living with HIV due to TB alone, the HIV epidemic is dropping down the political agenda in South Africa and internationally.

“Several foreign donors are withdrawing funding for AIDS and no longer funding the TAC or other civil society organisations as they did in the past. Donors such as the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), who have been a key funder of TAC, are pulling out of South Africa due to our middle-income status.

“A number of funders remain committed to the TAC and are steadfast in their support of our work. However, their contributions alone are not enough. We need to raise an operating budget of approximately R30 million for next year, but in the difficult funding climate so far we have managed to raise less than 30% of our budget for the 2015/2016 financial year.”

Low said it was important to keep civil society organisations like the TAC alive because of the kind of work that they do for healthcare. Citing a few examples, he said response to the AIDS epidemic was driven by civil society organisations and that government had been forced to treat people because of the TAC and Section27.

“There are 400,000 infections in South Africa each day, healthcare systems are collapsing because of mismanagement and corruption, we need a strong civil society, we are still far from a healthcare breakthrough,” said Low.

The TAC’s financial year will end February 2015 and Low said they would really start to worry if things do not change.

“We are optimistic that we will raise the funds. We want the support of the public. We are liaising with donors and we don’t want to be too dependent on international funding like we have been in the past. We have a lot of volunteers who work with us as TAC and we just want to tell them that there is no need to panic,” said Low.

Khayelitsha’s TAC office said they had not been informed yet about the funding crisis, but they were sure that it would be on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting.

If you would like to make a contribution to the TAC, visit their site to donate.

TOPICS:  Civil Society Economy Health HIV TB

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