11 December 2014
This OIG investigation found US$3.84 million was not spent in compliance with Global Fund grant agreements in Ghana. The money was used by the Ghana Health Service to buy 128 million male condoms between 2010 and 2013 from the supplier Global Unilink. The condoms were found to be sub-standard, over-priced and bought through a non-competitive tender process involving forged documents.
As a result, the Global Fund is seeking to recover the above sum, is taking actions against the supplier Global Unilink and ensuring that health products meet quality standards prior to distribution. The purchase of key health products and commodities has been moved to the Global Fund’s Pooled Procurement Mechanism and Global Drug Facility thus mitigating the risk of procurement irregularities in the future.
The OIG investigation confirmed that the contracted supplier, Global Unilink, did not source the condoms from a WHO-certified manufacturer with the appropriate quality standards. The Ghana Health Service did not follow basic procurement rules and procedures. The tender was only advertised in local papers with a short response period and the bid proposals were evaluated over a year after the tender process. Although Global Unilink’s winning bid proposal was declared technically compliant, it did not include key components required by the tender documents.
Within a month of Global Unilink winning the contract, the Ghana Health Service approved their request for a 35 percent increase in the condom’s unit price equating to US$995,000 of increased contract value although the contract was fixed-price. There is no evidence that Global Unilink provided Ghana Health Service any supporting documentation or market pricing data in support of its request for the increase.
The OIG investigation found that the president of Global Unilink provided the Ghana Health Service with misleading information regarding the manufacturing source and the quality of the condoms. Fake manufacturer certificates were found in the Ghana Heath Service procurement files. The OIG concluded that these forgeries were created some time after the condom tender and contract award and after news reports that the condoms were defective.
The Ghanaian authorities have launched a criminal investigation to hold the responsible parties accountable to the law and to reclaim any illicit financial gains made. The Global Fund has made it clear to the Ghana Ministry of Health that the defective condoms must be destroyed as soon as possible in line with international environmental regulations.
To date, US$508,409,535 of Global Fund grants have been disbursed in Ghana. There are currently 81,000 people currently on antiretroviral treatment, 72,800 new smear-positive tuberculosis cases have been detected and treated and 15 million bed nets have been distributed.
The Office of the Inspector General works to ensure that the Global Fund invests the world’s money in the most effective way possible in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Through audits, investigations, oversight and consultancy work, it makes objective and transparent recommendations to promote good practice, reduce risk and condemn abuse.
Established in 2005, the Office of the Inspector General is an independent yet integral part of the Global Fund. It is accountable to the Board through its Audit and Ethics Committee and serves the interests of all Global Fund stakeholders. Its work conforms to the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing and the Uniform Guidelines for Investigations of the Conference of International Investigators.
The Office of the Inspector General believes that every dollar counts and has zero tolerance for fraud, corruption and waste. Through its whistle-blowing channels, the Office of the Inspector General encourages all to come forward to point out any irregularities that prevent Global Fund resources from reaching those who need them.