16 June 2010
Geneva – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria confirmed today that it has not disbursed money for grants to Zambia’s Ministry of Health since August last year. It made the decision to halt disbursements in August 2009 after it found evidence of expenditures that could not be accounted for.
However, around US$17 million of a total of US$137 million in affected funds originally meant for the Ministry of Health has been disbursed through other channels to ensure that there is no disruption of lifesaving services.
An additional US$180 million in Global Fund grants implemented by civil society organizations in Zambia are unaffected by this freeze.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will take over the management of the grants originally provided to the Ministry of Health. Full grant activities are expected to resume within the next two months.
The freeze in disbursement came after Zambian authorities last year uncovered fraud within its own Ministry of Health. Further investigations by the Global Fund showed that the Ministry of Health was not able to safely manage grants. The organization has demanded the return of US$8 million in unspent funds from the Ministry of Health. The Global Fund has also demanded that Zambia takes action against individuals found to be involved in the unaccounted expenditures that led to the freezing of grant disbursements.
The Global Fund has decided to clarify its actions as recent media reports have caused confusion about the state of its funding to Zambia.
The organization stresses that the overall efforts by the Zambian public sector in providing services and rolling out prevention and treatment for AIDS, TB and malaria are impressive, and that the Global Fund remains confident that the country will continue its progress in the fight against the three diseases.