global fund lifts ban on Uganda funding

Uganda on Friday welcomed the release of a grant package worth US $367
million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,
which the organisation suspended last August amid allegations of

The grants were frozen following an independent audit by
PricewaterhouseCoopers, which discovered incidents of inadequate monitoring and
accounting of expenditures for one of Uganda's grants to combat HIV. Funding
for life-preserving activities, however, was maintained throughout the
suspension period.

On Thursday, the Global Fund announced that it had lifted its
suspension of aid to Uganda following what it called the country's "intensive
efforts" to rectify "serious mismanagement" of funding.

The package includes two grants to combat HIV/AIDS, two grants
targeting malaria and one grant for tuberculosis.

"Over the past two months, the Global Fund has been heartened by the
intensive efforts of our partners in Uganda," said executive director
Richard Feachem. "We are very pleased that the progress made enables us to
lift the suspension of Uganda's grants."

"The lifting of the ban means that the struggle for our people's health
will go on unhindered and that the partnership will continue," said
Nsaba Buturo, Uganda's information minister.

Buturo maintained that Uganda would remain mindful of the damaging
report that culminated in the ban and said that a judicial commission of
inquiry set up by the government would continue to work to its "logical

The government "will not leave any stone unturned as a reassurance to
our friends we are doing business with," he said.

Before the funds were released, the East African country signed an aide
memoire setting out action points for the restructured management of
the grants to "ensure effective, accountable and transparent
implementation of funded programmes," according to a finance ministry statement.

Uganda and Global Fund agreed to establish structures to oversee the
implementation of the five grants, including "a self-assessment to ensure
effective oversight of the Global Fund grants; a continued involvement
of the caretaker management firm Ernst & Young over the next six to
nine months to evaluate the quality and efficacy of all sub-recipients of
grants; and a restructuring process of the grants to streamline
implementation, clarify responsibilities, and simplify grant oversight."

Uganda, which had won international praise for its anti-AIDS
programmes, has recently come under intense criticism for allegedly backsliding
in its commitments.

Less than a week after the Global Fund announced its suspension, health
campaigners accused the country of succumbing to US pressure to
eliminate condom use in favour of promoting sexual abstinence in its strategy
against HIV/AIDS.

Several NGOs alleged that abstinence-only campaigns were responsible
for a massive condom shortage in Uganda that threatened to unravel
earlier gains in fighting the spread of the HI virus.

The country has denied both the charges and the suggestion that there
was any condom shortage of any kind.

The Global Fund, created in 2002 as a joint public-private clearing
house, is a global partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing
resources to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

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