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).
The Global Fund is making some changes to the way the Secretariat manages grants. A new "country team approach" is being adopted, initially in 13 countries, but it will encompass a further 29 countries by the second quarter of 2011.
The Global Fund has issued a new Operational Guide targeted primary at implementers of Global Fund grants. Entitled "Operational Guide: The Key to Global Fund Policies and Processes," the 118-page document is available (in English) at www.theglobalfund.org/en/policies. French- and Spanish-language translations are underway.
The Global Fund Secretariat acknowledges that it has not done all it could have done to systematically tackle issues related to its grant-management processes raised by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). But it says that it has acted quickly and decisively whenever Global Fund monies were at risk.
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.
About two years ago, the Global Fund introduced a template for an Enhanced Financial Report (EFR), which all principal recipients (PRs) are required to submit annually (and also at the 18-month mark, in preparation for Phase 2 renewal). The EFR replaced the old Annual Report. The purpose of the EFR is to improve grant management, performance measurement, transparency and accountability.
The Global Fund has released a publication containing "up close and personal" short stories about how programmes supported by the Global Fund have saved and improved lives.
"Stories of Innovation and Impact - The Global Fund 2010," a 28-page document, has 12 stories in all, from Ethiopia, Georgia, Jordan, Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand and Zambia.
The Global Fund Secretariat is working with 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa to assess the possibility of reprogramming existing Global Fund grants to allow for a switch from the use of single dose nevirapine to more effective dual or triple ARV therapy for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).
Activists in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have expressed concern that the Global Fund may make changes to its eligibility and prioritisation criteria that may disadvantage lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries (LMIC/UMIC), including many in the LAC region.
The Global Fund has resumed funding for four of the five suspended grants to the Philippines, with different principal recipients (PRs) at the helm - and was expected shortly to sign an agreement with a new PR for the fifth grant. The five grants were suspended in September 2009, following evidence of unauthorised expenditures by the PR, Tropical Disease Foundation (TDF).