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Opinions: Global Fund; Accountability For Haiti Aid

Global Fund Saves Lives, ‘Not Expendable’

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson writes of the “breathless Associated Press story” about the uncovering of some corruption in grants given by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the subsequent reaction: “When scandals fit preexisting ideological narratives, they assume a life of their own. This particular narrative – the story of useless, wasted aid – is durable. It is also misleading and might be deadly.”

“But American policymakers should keep two things in mind,” Gerson writes. “First, the fund is not expendable. It supports about two-thirds of the global effort against malaria and tuberculosis, and about a quarter of the fight against HIV/AIDS. Since 2002, it has helped detect and treat 7.7 million cases of TB, distribute 160 million insecticide-treated nets and put millions of people on AIDS treatment. These are not the results of a fundamentally dysfunctional program.”

Gerson continues: “Second, the fund is the primary method by which America spreads the burden of encouraging global health to other nations. About a third of its funding comes from the United States. The rest is raised elsewhere. If the fund was diminished or discontinued, American health commitments around the world would need to dramatically increase – at least if we want to avoid complicity in a global tragedy” (2/4).

Holding NGOs Accountable For Using Haiti Donations

In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion piece, TransAfrica Forum President Nicole C. Lee, who has lived and worked in Haiti, asks: “With millions of dollars at our disposal do we really lack the ability to support basic sanitation and clean water? Do we lack the ability to stop a preventable, deadly water-borne disease [cholera] right off our coast? What happened to the money?” According to Lee, “more than half” of the donations to charity since the Haitian earthquake “continue to sit in U.S. banks.”

“We need to know: Who is responsible for coordinating the money donated to Haiti? Who is holding the thousands of NGOs on the ground accountable for the money they collected from U.S. families and families around the world? Moreover, who is pressuring the international donor nations to make good on their promises to help Haiti?” Lee writes, noting that Congress has been asked to “hold a hearing on large private NGOs and USAID-partner organizations” to examine where the money is. “The interim commission tasked to coordinate and assure transparency of donations has been nearly silent. There is no central NGO leadership to create a coordinated effort,” according to Lee (1/28).

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