By David Brown, Washington Post Staff Writer
The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.
Saturday, January 31, 2004; Page A16
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has suspended
payments of about $6.7 million to organizations fighting AIDS in
Ukraine, saying the groups are poorly managed.
The move, announced yesterday, is the first time in its 18-month
existence that the Global Fund has stopped the flow of money to a
program it supports. The fund is financing 225 disease prevention and
treatment programs in 121 countries.
Officials said the fund is negotiating with a nongovernmental
organization to take over delivery of AIDS services it supports in
Ukraine. The fund will bring in outside experts to help improve and
reorganize local management of the programs.
The Global Fund, an independent entity based in Geneva, seeks to
become the main conduit for moving money from rich countries to poor
countries for use against the three main diseases of poverty.
"Ukraine has a very rapidly growing AIDS epidemic, and we have
invested $25 million in stopping it. This money is not working at the
moment," fund spokesman Jon Liden said. He said there is no evidence
that money is being stolen or embezzled. Instead, the problem is that
the programs are poorly managed and far behind in their scheduled
The Ukrainian health ministry -- the designated recipient of a grant
to expand AIDS treatment -- was supposed to increase the number of
people on antiretroviral therapy from less than 100 to about 4,000 in
"They are nowhere near that," Liden said. He added that the
transition to a new program administrator would not interrupt
treatment for the relatively few people on antiretroviral therapy.
About $7 billion to $10 billion is needed each year for care and
prevention of AIDS in the developing world, according to some
estimates. The fund has been able to raise only a fraction of that
amount. To date, it has committed itself to providing $2.1 billion to
projects around the world.
Government agencies, charitable organizations and civic groups apply
to the fund for grants, which are awarded on merit. They are then
reviewed for performance while underway.
Some large donors -- including the United States government -- have
been reluctant to give more to the fund until they see evidence the
money is being put to good use. The fund is in the difficult position
of needing to ensure its donations are not wasted while at the same
time responding urgently to the AIDS epidemic by getting money to
treatment and prevention organizations, many of which are newly
created and have no track record.
Anil Soni, adviser to the fund's executive director, Richard G.A.
Feachem, said yesterday's action is evidence the system is working as
"From Day One, our donors and we said we will have failures. It's the
consequence of having a broad portfolio," he said. "Part of being
accountable is not turning your back on those cases that stall or
In Ukraine, the fund approved grants worth $25 million, for use over
two years. About $7.5 million has been disbursed, but only about
$740,000 has been spent, Liden said.
Besides the health ministry, the other two recipients of the grants
are a charitable organization called the Ukrainian Fund to Fight HIV
Infection and AIDS and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The Ukrainian fund is supposed to create a broad public education
program on AIDS prevention. The UNDP is overseeing several small
organizations designing prevention programs for injection drug users,
prostitutes, soldiers and other high-risk groups.
LINK: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/
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