Friday, November 25, 2011

Global health fund halts new programs due to financial problems

The world's biggest financier in the fight against three killer diseases says it has run out of money to pay for new grant programs for the next two years — a situation likely to hit poor AIDS patients around the world.

An official with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said Thursday that they have been forced to cease giving new grants until 2014 because of global economic woes brought on by debt crises in the United States and Europe.

An independent panel recommended in September that the fund must adopt tougher financial safeguards after it weathered a storm of criticism and doubts among some of its biggest donors.

The fund created the panel — chaired by former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and ex Botswana President Festus Mogae — in March to address concern among donors after Associated Press articles in January about the loss of tens of millions of dollars in grant money because of mismanagement and alleged fraud.

Germany, the European Commission and Denmark withheld hundreds of millions of euros in funding pending reviews of the fund's internal controls. Germany — the fund's fourth-largest donor- has since restored its funding. more