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UN-backed disease-fighting fund announces anti-corruption drive

UN-backed disease-fighting fund announces anti-corruption drive

The United Nations-supported initiative that helps countries fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria announced today that it is developing a code of conduct for suppliers, backed by a sanctions regime, to ensure its billions of dollars of outlays are not misused.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is the world's largest financier of programmes fighting the three diseases, with a total of $15.6 billion approved for programmes in 140 countries and with expected disbursements of $2.9 billion in 2009.

Over the past ten years, global funding for AIDS, TB and malaria has seen a dramatic increase and new, global markets have been created for products including antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) against AIDS, artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) against malaria and long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets.

These markets have grown from nearly nothing to hundreds of millions of dollars in only a few years, resulting in a large pressure on national governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to procure the products while keeping control of funds.

"The Global Fund has a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption and we have repeatedly taken firm and public action against any grantees and suppliers when there is evidence that our funding has been misused," says Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Global Fund.

"We will work closely with the other leading funders of global health programmes to reduce the risk of misuse of money earmarked by donors to save lives," Dr. Kazatchkine said.

Building on the Global Fund’s existing policies and practices, the new code of conduct will set clear and coherent guidelines, available on its web site, that all suppliers will be expected to adhere to, the Fund said in a news release.

The accompanying sanctions policy will set out the actions that the Global Fund may take when there is evidence that the Code has been breached, the Fund added.

As of March 2009, Global Fund-supported programmes are estimated to have averted more than 3.5 million deaths by providing AIDS treatment for 2 million people, anti-tuberculosis treatment for 4.6 million people, and by distributing 70 million insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria, according to the Fund’s figures.