GENEVA — A $21.7 billion global health fund and the United Nation’s main development arm launched anticorruption measures yesterday following intense scrutiny from donors and news articles detailing fraud in their grants.
Chief among The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s new measures are plans to create a high-profile panel of experts to examine the fund’s ability to prevent and detect fraud in its grants.
The fund has “zero tolerance’’ for fraud and corruption and was “responding aggressively when instances of fraud or misappropriation are detected,’’ said its executive director, Michel Kazatchkine, who estimated that the fund’s programs have saved 7 million lives.
Kazatchkine said the new measures would be in place by June.
Other corrective actions include doubling funds for its internal watchdog, the office of the inspector general, John Parsons. Before the announcement, Parson’s office was to get $18.5 million this year so it could expand to 19 investigators and eight auditors.
The Global Fund also plans to hire more internal financial managers, give outside firms more responsibility for monitoring grant spending, and help the countries receiving grants better oversee that money.
A key change will be tighter scrutiny over training events — a place where the fund’s investigators have found high levels of fraud. In Mali, a large share of TB and malaria grant money was lost to forged signatures and fraudulent invoices for training that did not take place.
Also yesterday, Helen Clark, UN Development Program administrator, announced stricter measures against internal fraud and corruption and backed the Global Fund’s new safeguards, saying “we can and we must do better.’’
The agency carries out programs with the Global Fund’s grant money in 27 countries, managing about $2.7 billion.
The Associated Press reported last week the Global Fund’s investigators were finding that high percentages of some grants were eaten up by corruption.