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January 28, 2011

Global Fund: Misleading Corruption Report

by John S. James, Aidsnews.org

In the last few days hundreds of news stories have suggested that much or even most of the grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have been lost to fraud. Most of the recent stories come from an Associated Press article published January 23 (see link below). Because of these stories, Germany suspended its payments to the fund pending investigation.

This is surprising because the Global Fund has been well known to be very aggressive in preventing or rooting out fraud, and in getting back money misused or stolen. And the issues matter because the Global Fund provides HIV or TB treatment to about 10 million people in poor countries, and malaria prevention to over 100 million -- most of whom would not otherwise get care.

Concerning the last few days' news, keep in mind:

(1) Almost all of the corruption information in the glut of stories in the last few days was discovered by the Global Fund itself, and published over a month ago (see the link below). The AP report and the hundreds of copycat stories in the last few days have echoed old information.

(2) The widely agreed figure of losses shown so far is just over $34 million (including "unsupported" expenses, which can be missing paperwork instead of corruption). This is serious, since money lost will result in unnecessary deaths. However, this represents about 0.3% of the money given out by the Global Fund, which appears to compare well with similar programs -- or with Washington, Wall Street, Europe, or anywhere else.

(3) If donors use these stories as an excuse to stop contributing to global health, millions of people will die as a result.

The Global Fund has done much better than other organizations in rooting out corruption, and is now being blamed for its own success in bringing problems to light.

Why the timing? Why a surge of hundreds of news stories in major media in 5 days, breathless with scandal but with little information except what the Global Fund itself published more than a month ago? Is it only coincidence that the right-wing plutocracy has chosen this time for a major worldwide assault against the poor and the middle class?

References

2 comments:

Bernard Rivers said...

John - You ask "Is it only coincidence that the right-wing plutocracy has chosen this time for a major worldwide assault against the poor and the middle class?" Personally, I don't think the "right-wing plutocracy" has the ability to generate 250 media stories during the 24 hours that followed the AP story on January 23. I think it was journalists of all political hues, and none, who simply thought, rightly or wrongly, that this was a good story.

In my capacity as Editor of "Global Fund Observer", an independent watchdog of the Global Fund, I've just posted a fairly detailed review of the whole issue of corruption among implementers of Global Fund grants. It's available at "www.aidspan.org/index.php?issue=139&article=1".

Regards,

Bernard Rivers (bernard.rivers@aidspan.org)

The Global Fund said...

Thank you for your blog, we also invite you and your readers to look at the Global Fund statement:
http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/howprotect/