By Myrlia Purcell on
Bono and Bobby Shriver have something to say about the media reports of fraud and corruption surrounding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The pair have co-written a blog post at Huffington Post in response to the recent news, saying:
When we formed (RED), we wanted the Fund to administer the money because we knew the Fund was set up to find the bad guys early. Many other international organizations do not have the aggressive tools used by the Fund. Others find bad guys late in the game.
But we knew the Fund would find them and shut them down immediately. We also knew they would publicize their findings, putting more pressure on other bad guys…
…We are thrilled that their system has worked. The Global Fund discovered fraud in a fractional portion of their disbursements (less than 3/10ths of 1% of the total money — and NO (RED) money whatsoever) and took immediate action.
We at Look To The Stars would like to commend the Global Fund’s efforts. When we first saw the reports, we decided to look into things a bit for ourselves, talking to Global Fund spokesperson, Rebeca Kritsch about the issues.
What we found is an organization which believes in transparency, and is taking steps to ensure that they are able to adequately keep tabs on their work as they grow and help more and more people around the world, while still remaining streamlined enough to get help to people fast.
Are we correct in understanding that it was inspectors who work for the Global Fund who discovered the problem?
Rebeca Kritsch: Yes, you are right. The problems were uncovered during routine audits conducted by the Office of the Inspector General, which is part of the Global Fund core structures, but operates independently from the Secretariat (which comprises the executive staff, entirely based in Geneva. There are no country offices).
How did people outside the Global Fund first learn about the missing funds?
The report prepared by the OIG was presented to the Global Fund Board last December, at the last Board meeting. Following the normal procedures, after the OIG report is presented to the board, it is posted on the web in the OIG area of the website. The report was posted at the beginning of January.
So it was the Global Fund’s own website that first posted the news… When was the Inspector General’s Office reinforced, and why?
RK: The expansion of the Inspector General’s office has been commensurate with the rapid growth of the Global Fund’s grant portfolio. This has led to a steady increase in the routine audits that the Inspector General is required to perform, demanding more staff. The Global Fund’s Board in December approved a significant increase in the Inspector General’s budget.
Has anyone at the Global Fund been found to be guilty of hiding money, or is it the only people in the receiving countries – the local people who are supposed to be helping their communities?
RK: It is important to make this distinction: There is the Global Fund Secretariat and there are the countries implementing grants (we call them recipient countries). The Global Fund only channels money to the countries, in response to their request, through proposals. The Secretariat doesn’t have any staff outside Geneva. The OIG investigation dealt with the countries receiving grants. They are NOT Global Fund staff.
Are any of the countries using the money properly?
RK: There are dozens of them. The total number of countries which have grants with the Global Fund is 150. The OIG has so far undertaken audits in 33 countries, and found misuse of funds in four of them. The total amount of misappropriated or unsupported funds is US$ 34 million. It represents 0.3% of the total amount disbursed to programs to date, which is a total of US$13 billion. Countries with problems are not the rule, they are the exceptions.
The Huffington Post reports Homi Kharas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and formerly the World Bank’s chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific, as saying,
“Without a spotlight, without investigations, and without some sort of accountability, it’s impossible to root out corruption. But just simply withdrawing donations, I do believe, would condemn millions of people who are not involved in the corruption to terrible fates.”
Programs supported by The Global Fund’s grants save 4,400 lives every day; since 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria claims to have saved 6.5 million lives. In just 8 years, they have provided 3 million people with AIDS treatment, 7.7 million with treatment against TB, and handed out 160 million insecticide-treated malaria bed nets.
Copyright © 2011 Look to the Stars