Corruption continues to hinder Global Fund’s work

The admirable work of the Global Fund and its aid partners has taken the fight to malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis, but its work is hamstrung by corruption. [Global Fund/Twitter]

The Global Fund has financed anti-malaria programmes in 100 countries since its foundation in 2002. However, there are flaws in the system and the spectre of corruption is ever present. EURACTIV’s partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

A partnership for the 21st century. That is how the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) describes its mission. It finances the majority of anti-malaria programmes world-wide, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where most infections are recorded and most children die from the disease. 100 countries have benefited from aid over the last decade.

Between 2002 and 2016, 56 donor countries contributed around €37 billion to fighting three of the most prevalent and deadly diseases in the world.

This year, another conference will be held as the Fund’s three-year cycle comes to an end, where the matter of replenishing the Fund will be discussed. Over the last few months, German Minister for Development Gerd Müller (CSU) has made numerous calls for NGOs to make major contributions and has repeatedly promoted the success stories that have emerged from the work carried out using the Fund’s money.

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However, a less rosy picture has emerged recently, on the back of investigative work carried out in Ghana, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the DRC, for example, journalist Francis Mbala reported that the poorest people still have to pay for their medicine, despite donor countries giving money to the Fund so that they could be provided free of charge. It emerged that the reason for this state of affairs was that staff in health centres often went months without being paid, so they saw selling the medicine as their only option.

Furthermore, in Ghana, the main warehouse where anti-malarial drugs were stored burned down last year. It eventually became clear that the fire had been set deliberately, in order to conceal the fact that a large amount of the drugs had been sold on the black market. The arsonists had hoped to hide their theft and cover up the massive fraud that had been carried out.

The Global Fund itself has a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption. However, Müller’s predecessor, Dirk Niebel (FDP), once temporarily discontinued German payments into the Fund after a corruption scandal came to light.

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The European Union has supported the Global Fund since its inception in 2002. As of 31 December 2012, the European Commission had contributed €1.13 billion to the Global Fund from the common European Union budget and the European Development Fund (to which all European Union member states contribute) and has pledged to increase this amount to €1.26 billion until 2013. It is the sixth-largest donor to the Global Fund, after the US, France, UK, Germany and Japan.

Together, the European Commission and European Union member states represent approximately 50% of the total funding provided to the Global Fund.

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