All four principal recipients (PRs) implementing Rounds 1 and 4 Global Fund grants in Zambia, two of them government and two NGO, have shown evidence of significant financial management and control weaknesses, episodes of misappropriation and fraud, and losses of grant funds. This is the overarching finding of an audit conducted in 2009 by the Global Fund's Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Ten months ago, the Global Fund put on hold about $95million in potential disbursements under four grants to the Zambia Ministry ofHealth, because of fraud within the ministry that was first reported by awhistleblower. Seven current or former ministry employees were charged by theZambian government in relation to the fraudulent appropriation of about$350,000 from one of the grants.
The Global Fund last month discontinued funding for Years 4 and 5 of Zambia's Round 4 HIV/AIDS grant because the PR - the Ministry of Finance and National Planning - failed to meet the conditions imposed when Phase 2 of the grant was approved in 2008. The conditions were that the PR utilise at least 50% of the grant funds disbursed in Year 3, and that an overall rating of B1 or higher be achieved during Year 3.
The Global Fund has suspended disbursements to the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Zambia, which is the principal recipient (PR) for several grants. The Global Fund's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has concluded that there was fraud in connection with one or more of the grants.
The Global Fund Board has approved three of the seven Round 7 proposals whose original rejection had been appealed by the applicants. The newly approved proposals are a malaria proposal from Azerbaijan that will cost $2.5 million over the first two years, a TB proposal from Cambodia that will cost $8.7 million, and a TB proposal from Zambia that will cost $4.1 million.
[Adapted by the author from a presentation she gave on July 14 at the Bangkok International AIDS Conference, at a satellite session entitled, "The Global Fund: How CCMs Can Be More Effective," organized by Aidspan and other NGOs.]
Simon Mphuka is the Director of Programs for the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ), a faith-based organization that is one of four Principal Recipients in Zambia.
The following represents excerpts from a Press Briefing on 8 January by Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa:
"Last month, I spent two weeks touring four countries in Southern Africa: Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. The primary purpose was to view the link between hunger and AIDS...