Some Activists Criticize Global Fund Director’s Statements Regarding Fund’s Financial Health
Some activists have already called for the resignation of Richard Feachem, even though he has not yet signed a contract to become the first director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Boston Globe reports. Feachem, the founding director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of California-San Francisco, was named as the fund's first director in April by the fund's board but has come "under fire" from some activists because of comments regarding the amount of money in the fund. According to comments that first appeared in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Feachem said that the fund had "plenty" of money to get started. Northeastern University law professor Brook Baker and Gorik Ooms, head of Medicins Sans Frontieres in Tanzania, last week in an e-mail demanded that Feachem step down from his prospective position unless he "distanced himself" from his comments. Baker said that Feachem, as the head of the "grotesquely underfunded" fund, should be "a drum major who is marching at the head of the pack and demanding the money" and should not be "making 'nice nice' with politicians in the hope that they will become more forthcoming in the future." Feachem, who could "as early as today" sign a $200,000 annual tax-free contract to become the fund's first director, responded to both Baker and Ooms by e-mail, saying that he "understood ... the activists' frustration" and acknowledging that the fund "needed much more money."
Criticism From O'Neill
U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's criticism of the fund has also contributed to its "rocky start," according to the Globe. O'Neill, who last month traveled to Africa with Irish rock star Bono, last week told a House panel that, while he was "impressed" by Feachem, he was "troubled" by the first decisions made by the fund's board. O'Neill alleged that there was "no discernable logic" regarding the awarding of the fund's first grants and that the grants had "no accounting" to track the number of individuals assisted by the grants. "The reason, I think, is ... [the fund] has 10 people" working for it, "including secretaries and administrative assistants," O'Neill said (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 7/1).