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Global Fund will
restore grants to Uganda

Global Fund will
restore grants to Uganda

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria will likely resume funding for Uganda's HIV program at the end of October, an official said Wednesday, citing steps the east African country has taken to address concerns about financial mismanagement.

The Geneva-based Global Fund last week suspended much of its funding after an accountants' review of one of its five grants to Uganda uncovered mismanagement by the nation's health ministry. Bradford Herbert, Global Fund operations chief, on Wednesday told reporters in Kampala, Uganda, that the Ugandan government acted quickly to name an international firm, Ernst and Young, to take over the program and had also appointed a review commission.

"The fund took action to temporarily suspend the grants when more severe measures such as termination could have been pursued. This was because we have confidence in the governance mechanisms to address the problem," Herbert said. "We need to set up a structure to strengthen the AIDS program in the health ministry. The commission of inquiry will take a month to do its work. The suspension, I believe will be lifted at the latest in October."

Herbert also said the Global Fund will leave three staff members in Uganda to oversee the management of its grants for critical programs, including the procurement of anti-HIV drugs and condoms, that had not been suspended. Most grants were suspended on August 24.

The fund had committed $201 million to the Ugandan AIDS program, of which $45 million had already been disbursed.

The top civil servant in the nation's finance ministry, Chris Kassami, said the government is committed to recovering any money that may have been embezzled. "I can assure you that where people have broken the law, the law will take its course. If there are people who have taken the money, it will be recovered," Kassami said. Herbert declined to say how much money may have been stolen but said it was a significant amount and that investigations are still under way. (AP)

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