This week, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced the departure of its Executive Director, appointed a new General Manager, celebrated 10 years of operations and received a promise of $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Past and Current Events
The Global Fund is the largest force in the fight against AIDS, TB, and malaria, providing $8 billion to fight these three diseases between 2008 and 2010 alone. In the past year, the Fund was criticized for “waste, fraud, and corruption” in a handful of countries, including Mauritania and Mali. Consequently, several Western countries froze donations. The loss of donors and the European financial crisis left the group short on funds, forcing them to postpone awarding any new grants until 2014 (previously reported by the Disease Daily).
As a result of the controversy, an outside panel investigated and reported on the Global Fund’s financial oversight and grant management practices. After reviewing this report, the Global Fund’s board decided to create a new position of General Manager to oversee the upcoming transformation period as it updates certain governance and management policies. This week, the board announced its selection of Gabriel Jaramillo to fill this role. Jaramillo served on the investigation panel and now promises to emphasize “simplicity, discipline, and rigor, with grant-management as the core activity of the institution.”
Following the Board’s announcement, Michel Kazatchkine decided to resign after five years of Executive Director, declaring that while Board’s decision “was made in the best interests of the Global Fund… I have concluded that I should not continue as Executive Director in these circumstances.”
Support from the Field
Despite the allegations of mismanagement, the Fund has long enjoyed support from a number of big names in development, including Bono, Jeffrey Sachs, Bill Clinton, and Zachie Achmat. Philanthropist Bill Gates praised the Fund’s effectiveness and innovation in his 2012 Annual Letter, pointing out that less than five percent of funds were misused and the Fund quickly identified and reformed practices susceptible to corruption. On Thursday, January 26, Gates further voiced his confidence in the Fund by announcing a pledge of $750 million over the next six years.
The Global Fund Model
What makes the Global Fund so successful and innovative in its approach to three of the most devastating diseases in the world? The Global Fund acts strictly as a financing mechanism; it does not attempt to implement programs in any countries. Instead, countries must develop their own plans to fight AIDS, TB or malaria; the country can then apply for funding. The proposal is reviewed by an independent Technical Review Panel, made up of disease and global development experts. If the plan is approved, the Fund then turns to the donor countries to raise the appropriate level of funds.
Finally, since its inception, the Fund has emphasized ongoing evaluation that requires programs to achieve specific targets during the life of the grant. Programs that don’t meet their goals are unlikely to be funded in the future. This model of performance based financing has saved an estimated 7.7 million lives over the past 10 years.