Global Fund to Fight AIDS Board Chooses British Professor Over American Candidate to Head Organization
The 18-member Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria board of directors late Tuesday night unanimously selected Richard Feachem, a British international health expert and professor, to be the first to head the organization, despite "last-minute pressure" from the United States delegation to select its candidate, the Washington Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 4/25). Feachem, a "longtime public health leader" who founded and currently heads the Institute for Global Health at the Berkeley and San Francisco campuses of the University of California and who previously served as a senior official in the World Bank's health program, was selected because of his "ability to 'get people moving and get things done,'" Richard Laing, a Boston University associate professor of international health, said. The board chose Feachem after a three-hour discussion that included a "plea" from HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson to select American candidate George Moose, an American diplomat with African experience. "I think a supremely qualified person has been chosen for the most important job in our business right now," David Nabarro, top aide to WHO Director Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, said (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 4/25). American UNAIDS official Kathleen Cravero and Canadian International Development Agency official Ernest Loevinsohn were among the other final candidates considered by the board. The "struggle" over the appointment of a leader was the organization's "first big test" of its ability to assert independence, according to observers. "There is now evidence that the fund is making all its decisions independent of political pressure. I think everyone agrees that's a good sign. This is a win for the fund," an official familiar with the board's Tuesday night meeting said (Washington Post, 4/25). Feachem's duties as head of the fund will include overseeing the organization's grants, setting up a "new round of giving" and working with agencies with "conflicting needs" and agendas (Boston Globe, 4/25) The board, after receiving more than 300 grant applications from more than 100 countries, plans to announce the first round of selected grant recipients today. The board plans to award a second round of grants in November (Washington Post, 4/25).
More Than Just AIDS
NPR's "Morning Edition" today features a report on applicants to the global fund who are seeking assistance for programs to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. NPR interviewed physicians and health experts in Nigeria, where $4 million would help launch an antiretroviral program; Ethiopia, where $20 million would provide bed nets treated with chemicals to repel mosquitos and build a community network to bring malaria treatment to people's homes; and the Philippines, where $13 million would help provide directly observed TB therapy to those with the disease. The full segment will be available online in RealPlayer Audio after noon ET (Knox, "Morning Edition," NPR, 4/25).