In light of Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s recently being accused of fraud, The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and The Global Fund have announced new protocol in an effort to protect contributions, such as noticeable support from U2’s Bono and Bill Gates, against corruption in the global fight against pandemic diseases in the third world.

The Global Fund has now disbursed $13 billion to programs in 145 countries. Now, there will be the development of formal initiatives in all countries where UNDP manages ongoing Global Fund grants, with specific attention to long-term anti-corruption, governance, and accountability systems. Twelve such initiatives have been developed and launched in the last twelve months, and a further thirteen will be put in place by the end of 2011.

In addition, a submission of a proposal to UNDP’s Executive Board to allow the Global Fund to access UNDP audit reports of Global Fund projects, a privilege currently restricted to UN Member States.

Finally, an agreement of a Memorandum of Understanding between UNDP’s Office of Audit and Investigation and the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General to strengthen cooperation and information sharing on investigations into fraud and corruption.

Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of The Global Fund states:

“Programs supported by the Fund have saved seven million lives and are turning back the three disease pandemics around the world. That is why we need to have the strongest possible financial safeguards and fraud prevention measures in place and are responding aggressively when instances of fraud or misappropriation are detected.”

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is the largest international channel of financial support for work on those three diseases, which disproportionately affect the world’s least developed countries. UNDP is a Principal recipient for approximately 12% of the Global Fund’s overall portfolio, often working in challenging environments, such as in countries emerging from natural disasters, conflicts, or political crises.

In December, the Global Fund suspended or terminated grants as a result of misappropriation reported by its Inspector General in four countries. Additional safeguards were implemented in two other countries where funds were considered vulnerable to misuse because of weak financial management systems, and extra security measures to prevent drug theft were imposed in five countries. A freeze on training activities was imposed in all Global Fund grants until detailed training plans could be approved. The Global Fund is demanding the recovery of $34 million unaccounted for in several countries.

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark adds:

“Over the last decade, the global fight against AIDS and other infectious diseases has been remarkably successful, saving many millions of lives and helping families, communities, and countries to grow stronger. When funds intended for life-saving treatment and prevention are stolen, that theft is tantamount to murder. UNDP welcomes the steps announced by the Global Fund today to enhance its financial safeguards and strengthen fraud prevention. UNDP will be supporting the Global Fund’s efforts, and taking additional measures of its own.”

UNDP’s partnership with the Global Fund has already brought treatment to more than 26 million cases of malaria and 700,000 cases of tuberculosis from Southern Sudan to the Democratic Republic of Congo to Liberia, Belarus, Haiti, and Tajikistan.

Clark concludes:

“Hundreds of thousands of people with HIV are surviving and thriving on the medication provided by these projects. We have an excellent track record in managing risk, preventing fraud and corruption, recovering money when it has been stolen, and collaborating with police and judicial authorities as required. Working in partnership with the Global Fund, we can and we must do better.”

Sources: UNDP and The Global Fund

Written By Sy Kraft, B.A.