Global Fund To Consider Delaying Grant Applications in Light of Funding Shortage
As the governing board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria prepares to meet in Thailand on Wednesday, fund officials are expected to consider delaying a call for a fourth round of grant applications because of a lack of funding to pay for them, the Financial Times reports. A background document accessed by the Times includes proposals to "reduce the frequency of calls for [grant] proposals" and "only to announce calls for proposals if resources available pass a certain threshold" (Beattie, Financial Times, 10/13). In its first two rounds of grants, the fund has committed $1.5 billion in funding to support 154 programs in 93 countries worldwide (Global Fund Web site, 10/14). The Global Fund in June said that it would need at least $700 million to fund projects that are up for approval in 2003. The amount is the gap between the total amount requested in project proposals set to gain approval this year and the $300 million the fund has left to spend this year (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/9). The Global Fund is expected to begin financing future grants with advance funds, according to the Times.
Officials involved in preparations for this week's meeting said that U.S. and British officials have been key objectors to calling for more grant applications before more funds have been secured, according to the Times. However, an unnamed British official denied U.K. opposition to going ahead with another round of grants but said the fund should work toward a more stable financial operation. Some AIDS advocates have said that delaying the acceptance of grant applications would constitute a "betrayal of the commitments to the fund" and that it is "standard practice to make grants ahead of the money arriving," the Times reports. Paul Zeitz, director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said, "If donors obstruct the rapid implementation of round four, it will undermine the whole initiative. This is truly outrageous." Jim Kim, adviser to World Health Organization Director-General Jong-Wook Lee, said, "Getting round four of grants started as early as possible is critical" to the WHO's plan to deliver antiretroviral treatment to three million people in developing countries by 2005. Kim added, "It is time to stop endlessly debating pointless technicalities, bite the bullet and do it." A spokesperson for HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who chairs the Global Fund's board, declined to comment about the grant funding issue (Financial Times, 10/13).