The headlines scream for attention and plenty of hand-wringing and I told you so's.
Massive Problems With Celebrity Driven Aide; UN Investigation As Sweden Reneges.
Global Disease Fund Seeks to Recover From Corruption
Darling of development world, stung by corruption problems, says others
But there's one problem with the headlines about today's revelation about The Global Fund. The revelations of problems with the distribution with the funds for medical aid into Africa did not come as the result of some deep undercover investigation by some newspaper or by some government agency.
They came from The Global Fund.
Because while virtually every organization that is spending money on the ground in Africa, whether they are helping people get access to clean water, saving the rainforest or helping fight AIDS is going to have corruption and have issues with a percentage of the money getting misspent, what The Global Fund did was decide, proactively, not to ignore that problem.
But there's fraud, the critics cry!
Well, actually yes The Global Fund's Inspector General (and that's a good start right there, if you are going to support an organization that does work on the ground in Africa, make sure they have an IG) says they uncovered issues, quite a few of them.
Among the corruption uncovered by Parsons' task force:
--Last month, the fund announced it had halted grants to Mali worth $22.6 million, after the fund's investigative unit found that $4 million was misappropriated. Half of Mali's TB and malaria grant money went to supposed "training events," and signatures were forged on receipts for per diem payments, lodging and travel expense claims. The fund says Mali has arrested 15 people suspected of committing fraud, and its health minister resigned without explanation two days before the audit was made public.
--Mauritania had "pervasive fraud," investigators say, with $4.1 million -- 67 percent of an anti-HIV grant -- lost to faked documents and other fraud. Similarly, 67 percent of $3.5 million in TB and malaria grant money that investigators examined was eaten up by faked invoices and other requests for payment.
--Investigators reviewed more than four-fifths of Djibouti's $20 million in grants, and found about 30 percent of what they examined was lost, unaccounted for or misused. About three-fifths of the almost $5.3 million in misappropriated money went to buy cars, motorcycles and other items without receipts. Almost $750,000 was transferred out of the account with no explanation.
--Investigators report that tens of thousands of dollars worth of free malaria drugs sent to Africa each year by international donors including the Global Fund are stolen and resold on commercial markets.
--The UN Development Program manages more than half of the fund's spending, but UN officials won't release internal audits of their programs to the fund's investigators. Parsons said that has blocked him from investigating programs in the more than two dozen nations, including some of the most corruption-prone.
Fair enough, it's a lot of money and it's a lot of issues that need addressing.
Also importantly when compared to overall budget which would be over $20 BILLION, it's not quite as massive as it seems.
The critics will scream fraud, but what they should be screaming is thank god there is a group that is doing business in Africa that is actually watching where the money goes, following the money and where there is clearly fraud, shutting off the money.
The fight to help those with AIDS in Africa will continue. The good work of The Global Fund will continue. Unfortunately, in some countries where the need for help is great, it will continue, someday, when the issues that were identified today are fixed.
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