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Global Fund to audit Cambodian projects

Global Fund to audit Cambodian projects

091112_03
Patients wait for treatment at the National Tuberculosis Hospital in Phnom Penh last month.

THE Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has pledged more than US$200 million to the national health system, on Monday is to begin its first audit evaluating how disbursed money has been spent.

The five-week audit is to cover all 13 Cambodia grants. The fund has approved $202.5 million in grants since the first was signed in September 2003: $124.8 million to fight HIV/AIDS, $50.2 million for tuberculosis, $22.8 million for malaria and an additional $4.7 million for “strengthening” the health system. Of that money, $157.1 million has been disbursed.

A statement from the Global Fund audit team said the Cambodia audit, one of 11 to be undertaken this year, had not been “triggered by any immediate concerns or information about diversion of funds”.

Recent audits in other
ASEAN countries have turned up a range of problems.

Earlier this year, for example, an audit of the Philippines, for which $220.6 million has been approved, showed that $1 million in disbursements given to the national Tropical Disease Foundation had been spent on “activities beyond the terms of the grant agreement”. The Global Fund demanded that the money be repaid, and all five grants to the foundation were suspended.

Cambodia prepares
Tol Bunkea, chief epidemiologist at the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said the centre had been receiving Global Fund money since 2004, and that much of it had been spent on purchasing mosquito nets and delivering them to rural villages. He said his office had been hard at work preparing for the audit, and he expressed confidence that no irregularities would be detected. “We’ve spent it on the right targets,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Global Fund board debated Cambodia’s request for $200 million in additional funding during a three-day meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that was scheduled to end Wednesday, said Nalin Mehta, a Global Fund senior communications officer. The board’s decision was to be announced soon after the meeting, though no word was available as of press time.

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