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Most of Global Fund cash well spent

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 – The Global fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has reacted to recent international press reports on fraud discovered in grants financed by it saying the facts were misrepresented.

Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine said its audits in 33 of the 145 countries where the Global Fund had grants revealed that only 0.3 percent of the total amount disbursed could not be accounted for.

"Concerned by the alarmist media stories, some donors to the Global Fund have stated that they need to reassure themselves of the organization\’s procedures for dealing with fraud before affirming their contributions," he said in a statement.

He stated that to date the total amount of misappropriated or unsubstantiated funds that the Global Fund was demanding to be returned amounted to $34 million.

"While fraud was unacceptable the stories in the media were alarmist," he said.

"In short, the vast majority of Global Fund resources are delivering tremendous progress in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria and saving millions of lives through the hard work of thousands of hard-working, honest health workers around the world," Mr Kazatchkine said in the statement.

He reassured donors that the Global Fund\’s systems to safeguard resources and procedures for dealing with fraud were solid and trustworthy adding that the grants were subjected to rigorous system of financial controls.

All grant spending was also verified by an independent agency which was required to report at least annually.

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 "We will work with these donors as well as anyone else to ensure that the Global Fund\’s systems are as good as they possibly can to address corruption," he said.

Meanwhile, Friends of Global Fund, Africa have said they would continue to support the Fund because it was the most effective mechanism to combat the three diseases on a global scale.

Advocacy and Communication Associate Nwando Onyeabo said in a statement that despite the misappropriation of grants by some countries, the fundamental principles of the Global Fund had not been compromised.

"In light of recent press coverage of Global Fund grants being subverted by corruption and misuse, we are obliged to re-examine our strong commitment to the Fund," the statement said.

The organisation said that although it did not dispute the reported misuse of Global Fund grants in Mali, Djibouti, Mauritania and Zambia, the events had reinforced its resolve to be tough towards the Global Fund and its processes.

"They are crucial to remind us that this fight is not simple, that the war cannot be won against these three pandemics by simply throwing money at it that it must be the responsibility at all levels of society to ensure that the money is getting to who needs it most," the statement concluded.

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