The Global Fund and Uganda's Ministry of Health are implementing a plan to safeguard Fund disbursements in the country following concerns over possible mismanagement of a $51 million grant to support antimalarial bednet distribution. The principal recipient (PR) for the grant was the Ministry of Finance, but the implementing entity was the Ministry of Health (MOH).
The Fund said in a statement that options to strengthen financial oversight and management to mitigate the risk of fraud are also being discussed.
The statement follows a review by the local fund agent, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Limited Uganda, which was commissioned by the Global Fund. The purpose of the review was to assess part of anti-malaria support programmes which involved the procurement and distribution of over seven million insecticide-treated nets to pregnant women and mothers with young children. As a result of the findings from this review, the Global Fund asked the LFA to expand its review even further. .
Meanwhile, Uganda's MOH carried out an internal audit to verify expenditure and address the internal control weaknesses.
The Fund said in the statement that it instructed the PR to discontinue transfers to individual personal bank accounts of funds intended for programme implementation. The Fund has also warned Uganda that it will seek a refund of all payments related to the $51 million grant for supply of anti-malarial bednets, and will insist on appropriate disciplinary action against anyone found to be involved.
Global Fund programmes in Uganda currently provide ARV treatment for 291,000 people and have distributed 7.7 million insecticide treated nets. According to the country's Malaria Control Strategic Plan, malaria kills between 70,000 and 100,000 people in Uganda annually.
A detailed account of the genesis of the problems facing Global Fund grants in Uganda can be found in GFO issues 90, 103, 113 and 125.