A message to staff, partners and friends from the Executive Director

24 January 2012

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

This has been a difficult letter to write.  Its purpose is to inform you of my decision to step down from my position as Executive Director of the Global Fund by March 16, 2012.

For the last ten years, the Global Fund has been my passion and my most important undertaking.  As a member of the Transitional Working Group in 2001 that laid down the basic structure and principles of the Fund, as the first Chair of the Technical Review Panel from 2002 to 2005, as the Vice-Chair of the Board in 2005 and 2006, and in my five years as Executive Director, I have been deeply committed to helping the Global Fund achieve its vision of a world free of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

No institution is perfect, and the Global Fund is no exception.  Yet, I am immensely proud of what the Global Fund has achieved in these ten years, and I am tremendously grateful that I have been able to play a central part in its evolution and success.  As a physician, I am particularly proud of the role that the Fund has played in reducing human suffering and saving lives.  Through its strong focus on human rights, the Global Fund is also helping to protect vulnerable groups in many countries who suffer discrimination, persecution and indignity.  And with its principle of country ownership and its unique power-sharing and multi-stakeholder governance structure of governments, civil society and the private sector, the Global Fund has helped to spearhead an entirely new framework of international development partnership.   Although we still have a long way to go to make this new approach work in every country, I believe that the Global Fund has permanently changed the development landscape for the better. 

In this year of the Fund’s tenth anniversary, there is much to celebrate.  The Global Fund has been a force for good and has helped to make the world a better place. 

Today, the Global Fund stands at a cross-road.  The High-Level Panel which delivered its report last September clearly stated that the Fund must adapt to the different realities of its second decade.  The prevailing economic climate poses new and formidable challenges to all international development efforts.  In the international political economy, power-balances are shifting and new alignments of countries and decision-making institutions are emerging or will have to be developed to achieve global goals.  Within the area of global health, the emergency approaches of the past decade are giving way to concerns about how to ensure long-term sustainability, while at the same time, efficiency is becoming a dominant measure of success.

My belief that the Global Fund has an indispensable role to play in the coming decade is unwavering and I am confident that the rationale, targets and objectives of the new strategy adopted by the Board last November provide a strong institutional framework for the next five years.

In November, the Board decided to appoint a General Manager to oversee implementation of the Consolidated Transformation Plan who will report directly to the Board.  I respect this decision and trust that it was made in the best interests of the Global Fund.  I have reflected long and hard on the implications of this decision for me and for the organization.  While I remain fully committed to the Global Fund and its mission, I have concluded that I should not continue as Executive Director in these circumstances. 

I am committed to an orderly transition and I will do all that I can to ensure that the Global Fund emerges from it as a stronger organization.

I sincerely thank all members of the Global Fund staff for their commitment to the Global Fund.   Each and every person working in the Secretariat is making a direct and invaluable contribution to saving lives.   It has been a true privilege to work with such a committed, diverse and talented group of people.  There will be an informal event in March for us to say goodbye and for me to thank staff members personally for their efforts.

I thank everyone in the Fund’s major partner organizations for their support.  Without WHO, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNICEF, Stop TB, Roll Back Malaria, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Unitaid and the many civil society organizations that I have seen in action, Global Fund financing could not make such impact. 

I thank all the Friends organizations, particularly those in Europe, Japan, the US, Africa and the Pacific, whose advocacy and constant support for the Global Fund are so essential to its visibility and success.   I thank all the governments that are donors to the Global Fund.   And I thank our many other donors, including everyone associated with Product RED, as well as Bono, for their remarkable support.

Finally, I thank all the countries that are implementing AIDS, TB and malaria programs for their courage and commitment to fighting disease and improving the health of their people.  The opportunities that I have had to travel to many countries in the last five years and to see firsthand the difference that the Global Fund is making have been a tremendous source of personal inspiration.

As the Global Fund faces a challenging year of transition, it is more important than ever that staff, partners, donors, implementers, friends and supporters of the Fund pull together to maintain the remarkable hope that the Fund has generated around the world, and to keep up the fight.

With warm regards
Michel Kazatchkine

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