WASHINGTON (November 15, 2012)—AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) criticized the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), on the news that the Fund has fired John Parsons, the Funds Inspector General. Parsons, a 35-year veteran in auditing global health and other programs, had found numerous instances of fraud and abuse in the Fund’s grants to countries.
The Global Fund is an international organization set up to provide funding to poorer countries that do not have the financial or political ability to combat diseases such as AIDS and malaria. The $21.7 billion Fund relies on the donations of many developed countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan and Spain for the money to fund these services. The United States is by far the largest contributor to the Fund.
Prior findings by Parsons of waste and fraud in Global Fund programs had prompted a blue ribbon panel review of Fund management practices, the withholding of Fund contributions from a number of countries, and ultimately the resignation of Michel Kazatchkine, the Fund’s Executive Director. Many members of the Fund’s Board of Directors represent countries receiving Global Fund monies.
“It appears that John Parsons has been fired merely for doing his job too well. This is a very dark day for the Global Fund and accountability in development funding in general,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “I fear that this will adversely affect donations to the Fund at a time when real progress containing the epidemic should be being made through efforts backed by the Fund.”
Critics scoffed at the Fund’s claim that Mr. Parsons’ performance was “unsatisfactory.”
“The only way Mr. Parsons’ efforts could be considered unsatisfactory is if the Board felt he had not found enough waste, fraud, and abuse in Global Fund programs. It is more likely the opposite is true; the Fund was uncomfortable having its shortcomings so exposed.” said Tom Myers, AHF’s General Counsel. “Waste and fraud have real world, life and death effects. There are 34 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS today, yet less than 7 million have access to lifesaving antiretroviral treatment. This means that we are only covering 19% of the population with lifesaving HIV medications. It is imperative that we leverage all resources, such as the Global Fund’s lifesaving grants and programs, in the most efficient manner possible to save as many lives as possible. We very much hope that Mark Dybul, the Fund’s new Director, will challenge and change this culture, so that the United States can assures its citizens that the $1.3 billion it contributes yearly to the Fund is money well spent.”