Aidspan, an independent watchdog of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Monday published Issue 202 of its “Global Fund Observer.” Among other articles, the issue features an article on the selection of Ambassador Mark Dybul as the next Global Fund executive director; an article summarizing “the main decisions made by the Global Fund Board at its 28th meeting in Geneva on 14-15 November 2012”; and an article on the Global Fund Board’s approval of a new funding model (11/16).
Following the appointment of Ambassador Mark Dybul to be the next executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as the Global Fund Board’s adoption of a new funding model, German Development Minister Dirk Niebel released his government’s next payment to the Global Fund in the amount of 100 million euros ($128 million), according to a press release from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. With the release of funds, the total contribution of the German government to the Global Fund in 2012 is 200 million euros ($256 million), the press release notes (11/16).
Noting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria met last week to discuss progress in fighting the three diseases, Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the board of the TB ACTION Group, interviews Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, about the global response to tuberculosis (TB) in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. In the blog, Ditiu summarizes the state of the global TB response, discusses the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), and addresses the Global Fund’s role in the response to TB and the future of these efforts. “The Global Fund has an ambitious strategy that includes important milestones for anti-TB efforts,” Ditiu said, adding, “The international community must find a way to fund that strategy and to ensure that resources are allocated in a way that achieves the greatest good for the greatest number of people,” according to the blog (11/16).
The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Thursday named as its new Executive Director Ambassador Mark Dybul, who helped create and then lead PEPFAR under former President George W. Bush, Intellectual Property Watch reports (Hermann, 11/15). According to the New York Times, “[h]e is respected by many AIDS activists in the United States, though there is some lingering controversy about his time in the Bush administration related to abstinence policies and anti-prostitution pledges imposed by conservative lawmakers as well as concerning strict licensing requirements for generic drugs” (McNeil, 11/15). The Financial Times reports Dybul said, “The most important thing is to look forward, not to the past. The U.S. funded more condoms than all other sources and 90 percent of all antiretrovirals are generics.” The newspaper notes, “Dybul’s appointment from a shortlist of four was adopted by the fund’s 26-strong board — composed of donor and recipient countries, non-governmental organizations, and business representatives — with just two abstentions, including France” (Jack, 11/15).
The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Thursday announced it will “integrate” the Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria (AMFm), implemented in 2010 as a pilot program to provide low-cost artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in poor and rural areas, “into its existing core system of providing grants to countries to purchase drugs, bed nets and other malaria-control measures,” Nature News Blog reports (Butler, 11/15). “During a transition period in 2013, the lessons learned from the operations and resourcing of Phase 1 of the AMFm, such as manufacturer negotiations and the co-payment mechanism, will be integrated into core Global Fund processes,” a Global Fund press release states.
“In a bid to ensure the global fight against three of the world’s most devastating diseases remains efficient, the Board of the … Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria voted [Thursday] to begin an immediate transition” to a new grant-funding approach, the U.N. News Centre reports (11/15). The new funding model “is designed to be simpler, more flexible, and have greater impact in conquering the diseases,” according to Reuters. “The new system relies upon closer discussions with the recipient countries, along with other donor groups and experts, over the design of their disease-fighting programs”; “will focus on addressing the needs of the poorest countries with the highest number of infections”; and will allow flexible grant cycles “instead of falling in set time periods, so that they can be coordinated better with a country’s budgetary cycle, [the Board] said,” the news agency writes (Dawson, 11/15).
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said in a statement Thursday that its board had terminated the employment of Inspector General John Parsons ‘after a careful review of his performance, which was found to be unsatisfactory,'” the Associated Press reports (11/15). “The decision … , which was effective immediately, was based on a review by the board, an independent external peer review of the audit function, and a report by the group’s audit and ethics committee,” Reuters notes (Nebehay, 11/15). In a statement, the Global Fund said, “The Board confirms its full support for an independent and strong Office of the Inspector General.” The statement continues, “The Board said that it recognized the need to maintain continuity in the work of the audits and investigations currently underway, while the Global Fund conducts a search for a new Inspector General.” That process is expected to take about six months, and an interim Inspector General will be appointed soon, according to the statement (11/15).
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Wednesday said an investigation by the group’s Inspector General into grants in Cambodia “uncovered credible and substantive evidence of serious financial wrongdoing, on procurement and other issues,” Agence France-Presse reports (11/15). In a statement, the organization said, “Immediate action has been taken to protect the health of people supported by Global Fund grants in Cambodia, by adopting safeguards in procurement, financing and management” and added it “is committed to maintaining its grants in Cambodia and to expanding safeguards to protect its investments.” The statement adds, “An investigation report by the Office of the Inspector General is being finalized, and is expected to be publicly released once it is completed in the coming weeks” (11/14). According to AFP, “The mismanaged money amounts to under $1 million and was allocated to Cambodian officials to spend on anti-malaria programs, said a source with knowledge of the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity” (11/15).
Writing in Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog, Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the board of the TB ACTION Group, notes “countries from north and south, U.N. organizations, private sector companies and [non-governmental organizations (NGOs)] are meeting in Geneva [this week] at the Board meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to discuss how best to invest available resources against the three killer diseases.” She highlights “a new approach to fight AIDS, which basically could lead to the end of the global pandemic,” noting, “UNAIDS calls it ‘the people-centered investment approach.'” Chesire interviews Bernhard Schwartlander, director of evidence, innovation and policy at UNAIDS, about this new approach.
The Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria began as a pilot program in 2010 to “provide a ‘co-payment’ to the manufacturers of [artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs)], thereby allowing commercial wholesalers and private or government health services to purchase the drugs at a fraction of the already low negotiated price,” Kenneth Arrow, a Nobel laureate in economic sciences in 1972 and an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. The program subsidized ACTs — a newer, more effective malaria treatment — to “sell [them] as cheaply as [less-effective] chloroquine in Africa’s private pharmacies and shops, where half of all patients first seek treatment for malaria-like fevers,” he states. “Strikingly, it has worked,” Arrow writes, noting a recent independent review of the program published in the Lancet.