Uganda loses $16m Global Fund aid

Felix Osike | 11 Mar 2007
New Vision
The Global Fund has permanently terminated two grants to Uganda for malaria and tuberculosis because of what it called "unsatisfactory performance." As a result, Uganda has missed about $16 million (sh28b).

"We applied for funding but they (Global Fund) were not satisfied and they communicated their decision about two weeks ago," said state minister for primary health care Dr. Emmanuel Otaala. "We can't force them. We are now applying for the next round. The documents must be submitted in the next two months."

This is the second time the Global Fund takes action against Uganda. In August 2005, it temporarily suspended five grants, following an audit report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers which exposed gross mismanagement in the project management unit.

The suspension was later lifted after the Government ordered a judicial inquiry, which confirmed massive fraud.

Justice James Ogoola described the operations of the fund as a "drama of tragedy" and declared: "As the sick lay dying, the greedy middlemen dived for the kill."

The New Vision
has reliably learnt that the Global Fund terminated Uganda's malaria grants because of the delay by the Government to implement the recommendations of the probe report.

"They want to see the Government taking action on the people mentioned in the probe report," said a source. The Global Fund reportedly also wants the Government to strengthen its oversight and management of the grants.

The probe found former health minister Jim Muhwezi "politically responsible and accountable for... the overall mismanagement of the project." It also found the overall project co-ordinator, Dr. Tiberius Muhebwa, his financial controller Moses Opondo and the individual staff of the Project Management Unit responsible for loss of funds. Others implicated are Dr. Elizabeth Madra, the programme manager of the AIDS Control Programme and individual officers. The probe recommended that they refund the money.

After the Cabinet discussed the probe report late last year, the deputy Attorney General, Adolf Mwesige, was directed to forward the names of those to be prosecuted to the authorities concerned.

"The report was forwarded to the DPP, the CID and the IGG and they are doing their work," Mwesige said yesterday. "Investigations don't take a short time. We are dealing with serious matters. It is only fair that the State is allowed to do a thorough job."

The Global Fund has terminated seven grants worldwide. Other countries affected are Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria and Pakistan.

http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/12/553529