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UN-backed Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB, malaria suspends grants to Uganda

UN-backed Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB, malaria suspends grants to Uganda

The United Nations-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has temporarily suspended all five of its grants to Uganda, totalling $201 million, because of “serious mismanagement” and asked the country’s Finance Ministry to put in place a new structure to ensure effective handling of the grants.

But the Fund, a unique global public-private partnership created three years ago on the initiative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, will take interim measures to ensure that funding for life-saving treatment and prevention activities such as condom procurement and distribution will not be disrupted during the suspension period.

“The Global Fund remains committed to the support of efforts to combat the three diseases in Uganda and will provide all possible support to enable the quick resumption of full grant-funded activities in Uganda,” it said in a statement today.

The move follows a review undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers of one of the grants, which revealed evidence of serious mismanagement by the Project Management Unit (PMU) in the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the principal recipient for the five grants, has been requested to come up with a plan by the end of October for restructured implementation arrangements for all grant-funded programmes. These arrangements will have to include the disbandment of the PMU.

Of the $201 million granted over two years, $45.4 million has so far been disbursed.

Last week the Fund terminated grant agreements with Myanmar totalling more than $35 million because it said its programme could not be managed effectively given new travel restrictions.

Fund grants enable countries to scale up their fight against the three diseases in a sustainable way by strengthening health systems and paying for drugs, diagnostics, mosquito nets and other commodities. It has allocated $3.7 billion to 316 programmes in 127 countries: 56 per cent for fighting HIV/AIDS, 31 percent for malaria and 13 per cent for TB. Sixty per cent is spent in sub-Saharan Africa. A total of $1.4 billion has been disbursed to programmes so far.

Fund-financed programs now support 220,000 people on AIDS treatment and have provided treatment for 600,000 patients with TB and 1.1 million patients with malaria. The Fund currently contributes a fifth of all external resources worldwide to fight HIV/AIDS, two-thirds of external resources for TB control and well over half of external resources to roll back malaria.