On the Heels of Recent Criticism of Global Fund Leader and Calls for Reform, Sweden Honors Global Fund Pledge of SEK 600 Million ($90.5M USD) and Commits SEK 2 Billion ($300M) for Period of 2011-2013
Despite recent criticism of the management of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and calls for reform, the government of Sweden announced that it will disburse a contribution of SEK 600 million ($90.5 million USD) to the Fund within the next month. Sweden will make a total pledge of SEK 2 billion ($300 million) for the period 2011–13– representing an increase to its previously pledged contribution despite concerns about the stewardship of Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director of the Fund, and the mid-September release of a critical report of the ‘High-Level Independent Review Panel on Fiduciary Controls and Oversight Mechanisms of the Global Fund,’ which detailed many current shortcomings in the Fund’s monetary and program management and suggested numerous reforms to allow it to ‘sustain its important role’ in improving global health.
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.
“We applaud the Government of Sweden for not only continuing to follow through on its commitment to the Global Fund, but also for increasing its funding during what some see as turbulent times for the Fund and the world economy,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Sweden’s bold action proves that reform is the best way to guarantee the future of the Global Fund. Other donor countries that have been withholding contributions should follow Sweden’s example, and like Sweden, the US should also increase its support of the Fund.”
At the time of the September release of the ‘High Level Independent Review’ of the Fund, AHF endorsed the proposed reforms and called on Executive Director Kazatchkine to step down to ensure that the proposed reforms occur.
A letter from the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation regarding its commitment to continue its contributions to the Global Fund stated, “Sweden will continue to fulfill and deliver upon any financial commitments we make, while strictly holding the institution to account for its actions and results…,” adding, “…Sweden will not shy away from raising difficult and thorny matters….” The letter also noted, “…much still remains to be done, both in terms of implementing the agreed reform agenda and the recommendations of the High Level Panel, and longer-term structural changes…(and) that the Global Fund’s business model is in need of additional fundamental changes.”
“Sweden is releasing it contribution because the Global Fund has committed to a very public process of reviewing itself and fixing itself. AHF has previously called for a commitment to transparency as the best way to maintain the integrity of the Global Fund. It is the Fund’s newfound commitment to such transparency that allowed Sweden to give, despite its concerns—and a move that serves as vindication of AHF’s position on reform,” added AHF’s Weinstein. “It would be great if the US made itself equally clear by saying that it is willing to increase its contributions to the Global Fund—but subject to the proposed reforms being implemented.”