UNDP welcomes Global Fund reforms

28 Sep 2011

High-level panel’s recommendations would complement UNDP efforts

New York — UNDP welcomes today’s adoption by the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, & Malaria of recommendations by an independent panel for scaled-up oversight and management of grants, one-tenth of which are handled by UNDP.

“Along with the Global Fund, UNDP welcomes the adoption of these recommendations, which will complement our own efforts to deliver life-saving treatment to some of the world’s neediest people as efficiently, effectively, and transparently as possible,” UNDP’s HIV/AIDS Group Director in the Bureau for Development Policy, Jeffrey O’Malley, said.

The Global Fund, an innovative public-private partnership, has played a key role in the global response to the three pandemic diseases through a range of partnerships, including with the United Nations. It is the largest international channel of support for work on these diseases, which disproportionately affect the world’s least developed countries.

UNDP acts as Principal Recipient for about one-tenth of the Global Fund’s overall portfolio, mainly in uniquely challenging environments such as in countries emerging from natural disasters, conflicts, or political crises.

"UNDP supports the Panel's constructive recommendations for further improvements in the collaboration between itself and The Global Fund. It will discuss these suggestions with the Global Fund's secretariat and its office of the inspector general over the coming weeks to ensure their timely implementation,” affirmed O’Malley.

Early this year, UNDP announced new measures aimed at further strengthening safeguards against fraud and corruption in the global fight against pandemic diseases.

The UNDP Executive Board agreed in June to facilitate access by the Global Fund to UNDP internal audits of programmes financed by the Global Fund. On 9 Sept., it approved proposals by UNDP to further streamline audit disclosures through a secure online portal.

Previously, audit reports were available only to member states, at UNDP headquarters. Member states, intergovernmental donors, and the Global Fund will now be able to access UNDP internal audits remotely and easily.

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

It has also distributed 403 million condoms and provided HIV counseling and testing to 4.8 million people worldwide; a further 213,000 people are currently on life-saving antiretroviral treatment through the UNDP-Global Fund partnership.

Far-reaching changes

In a statement today, the Global Fund board acknowledged weaknesses in the financial oversight of grants and said it planned comprehensive reforms.

Former US Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, who co-chaired the high-level review panel with former President of Botswana Festus Mogae, also welcomed the board’s decision, calling it “a catalytic event.”

“Prompt implementation will provide donors with confidence their contributions will fuel a more efficient and sustainable response to HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria,” Leavitt said.

The panel’s report, commissioned in March and released 19 Sept., makes far-reaching and detailed recommendations on how to improve the grant application process, funding allocation mechanisms, and internal management.

It noted the key role played by UNDP, recommending enhanced cooperation on audits and investigations, information-sharing, and development of national capacities so national entities can take over grants as early as possible.

The Panel urged the Global Fund to focus more on its core business of managing grants to save and protect lives. It recommended improving oversight, simplifying grant application processes, and putting in place a robust risk management framework.