Partners in Crime: National Theft of Global Fund Medicines

Roger Bate | 20 Apr 2023
Africa Fighting Malaria
[Over the past four years, AFM has sampled malaria drugs from eleven African countries, analyzing them for basic quality. Over time we noticed increasing amounts of the best antimalarial drugs, artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), on sale in the private sector, which had originally been donated to the public sector; they had been stolen and diverted into private markets. Since then, we have learned of major financial irregularities at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, mainly due to their reliance on national Central Medical Stores (CMS). In this briefing paper, AFM's Roger Bate explores the Global Fund's use of CMS and suggests ways to stop the misuse of funds.]


Millions of dollars of donated antimalarial drugs have been stolen, most often by staff of recipient government medical stores; this strengthens criminal gangs and undermines donor intent. The main culprit donor is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, which worryingly is pushing ahead with further schemes that have the same inherent weaknesses, which may worsen the theft problem. Sweden and Germany have already suspended funding to the Global Fund due to financial irregularities, but it is time for a thorough investigation of drug theft - to ensure that drugs are being used by those intended, rather than encouraging illegal parallel distribution systems, in both recipient nations and nations where products are diverted. It is likely that the entire incentive system needs to change, so that donors only receive future taxpayer funds when they can show that the drugs they buy actually reach intended patients in developing nations, not just reach their governments' medical stores.

Full Briefing Paper available at