Last week, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria told Uganda it was suspending 150 million dollars in grants. It cited fiscal mismanagement.
Wednesday, there was word that Uganda hired a well-known auditing firm – Ernst and Young – to oversee its funds to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. Richard Burzynski is head of ICASO, the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations.
From Toronto, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about whether the incident indicates the fund must do a better job of how it provides grants.
Mr. Burzynski says, “I think what it tells most of us who work with the Global Fund and believe in its work…it tells us that in fact the system’s working. It finds out whether or not the absorption is there. It finds out if there are bottlenecks. It finds out when there are problems and then it quickly moves to respond to them. Within days, they were already in Uganda meeting with government officials and NGOs to talk about what are the next steps…What we want to do is make sure that the Global Fund, while it remains innovative, it certainly needs to respond to its critics.
He says Uganda is taking the right approach following the suspension of AIDS funds. “Absolutely. I think this is now becoming a very serious issue. The amount of money being raised, billions of dollars to go into country programming, to go into programming to assist governments, to work with civil society sector, to do the programming of care, prevention, treatment. All those things we talked about for years…And frankly, it never was said to be easy. It’s very clear to all of us that trying to set up new systems and health care systems and booster them, along the way there will be a lot of ripples and a lot of holes in the road. And as you reach them, each and every one of them needs to be attacked and dealt with.”