Office of the Inspector General

Global Fund Grant in Uganda: Coercive practices, including sexual exploitation and abuse, by a sub-recipient staff member

19 May 2023

The 2017-2022 Global Fund Strategy, “Investing to End Epidemics,” is committed to scaling-up programs to support adolescent girls and young women. Under the Global Fund Measurement Framework for Adolescent Girls and Young Women’s Programs, 13 countries are prioritized, including Uganda. As part of this strategy, the Global Fund provides funding for health programmes in Uganda tackling the three diseases – HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

One of the Principal Recipients of Global Fund grants in Uganda, The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) implements a combined HIV/TB grant, UGA-C-TASO. TASO also oversees the activities of the sub-recipient Programme for Accessible Health Communication and Education (PACE). PACE is an indigenous health-oriented non-governmental organization that implements activities in HIV/TB care and prevention, malaria and child survival, maternal and reproductive health, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene. PACE has been a sub-recipient of Global Fund grants since 2013.

The grant is intended to support the goal of increasing productivity, inclusiveness, and well-being of those living with HIV, and ending HIV/AIDS as an epidemic by 2030. One of the objectives is to strengthen social and economic protection of people living with HIV, as well as of orphans and other vulnerable populations to reduce vulnerability to HIV and AIDS.

The Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) substantiated an allegation – received in October 2021 – that coercive practices had occurred in the sub-recipient’s Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) program, which was under the oversight of TASO. The alleged coercive behaviour led to at least three beneficiaries of Global Fund-supported activities being sexually exploited and abused by a PACE employee working for the sub-recipient’s AGYW program between 2019 and 2020.
Both the Principal Recipient and the sub-recipient failed to report coercive practices to the Global Fund. The OIG was not notified about the allegations until over a year after the abuses took place.