25 March 2015
GENEVA – Reuters news agency corrected a news item that had erroneously reported that the Global Fund had cancelled US$574 million of grants to Malawi. In an update, Reuters reported that funding is still going to Malawi to fight HIV. But Malawi decided to shift funding away from the National AIDS Council, after concerns emerged about financial management.
The original news item, titled “Global Fund cancels $574 mln for fighting AIDS in Malawi,” erroneously reported that Malawi’s Minister of Health, Jean Kalilani, said that the Global Fund had cancelled grants to Malawi.
The Global Fund did not cancel any funding to Malawi, where HIV is a serious concern. In fact, Malawi is currently implementing extensive programs that prevent, treat and care for people affected by HIV, and is in the process of submitting detailed funding applications to the Global Fund to support programs in the coming years.
In early 2015, following concerns about financial management at the National AIDS Council, the Malawi Country Coordinating Mechanism, a panel representing a range of stakeholders including the Ministry of Health, decided to channel US$574 million in funding to be implemented through different partners. Future funding will go through the Ministry of Health and ActionAid, a non-governmental organization. The National AIDS Council will no longer be a Principal Recipient of Global Fund grants.
Senior officials from the Government of Malawi met with the Global Fund at its office in Geneva in January 2015 and agreed on a common commitment to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in Malawi. The Global Fund said it supports initiatives to strive for the best use of the US$574 million that was allocated in March 2014 to the fight against the three diseases in Malawi over the next three years.
The Government of Malawi affirmed its commitment to maximizing the impact of Global Fund resources through a responsible, accountable and efficient use of funds, including implementing public financial management reforms and measures to strengthen procurement and supply chain management systems. Malawi officials added that they have made steady progress in public financial management reforms.
At no time did the Global Fund discuss cancelling the $574 million allocation. Every grant by the Global Fund is approved by the Board of the Global Fund, and any cancellation has to be approved by the Board as well.
The Reuters article also reported that the Global Fund had asked Malawi to repay US$6.4 million. That is also inaccurate. In fact, the Global Fund asked Malawi to repay US$3.3 million that an audit by the Office of the Inspector General in 2012 found had not been properly accounted for or was related to expenditure on activities not in the approved work plan. Malawi repaid the amount in full in July 2014. All reports by the Office of the Inspector General are a matter of public record and are published on the Global Fund website.
An additional amount of inadequately accounted funding was identified by a coalition of partners, including the Global Fund, and is still under discussion.