Global Fund Board Could Lose Independence by Appointing Tobias To Head Policy Committee, Editorial Says
The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria's executive board might put the organization "at risk" of losing its "independence" from U.S. policies if it appoints U.S. Ambassador Randall Tobias, head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, as head of a new Global Fund policy and strategy committee, a New York Times editorial says. The Global Fund's board last month established the committee, which "is so powerful it has been described as a shadow executive board," and plans to select a chair to lead it this week, according to the editorial. Tobias currently is the only candidate to head the committee, and he might be approved "to avoid angering the United States, the fund's largest donor," the Times says. However, appointing Tobias to run the policy committee would mean "religious conservatives would have a direct channel into the Global Fund," which thus far "has been free to do the work America shuns," the editorial says. Tobias "did the right thing" earlier this week by "quashing" an effort to make the thousands of groups receiving Global Fund money sign a pledge that they oppose commercial sex work, the Times says (New York Times, 5/19). However, under the Bush administration's policy -- which stems from two 2003 laws involving HIV/AIDS funding and sex trafficking -- both overseas and U.S. HIV/AIDS organizations have to make a written pledge opposing commercial sex work or risk losing federal HIV/AIDS funding, even if the groups' work does not involve commercial sex workers (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/18). But on "many ... occasions" Tobias has "been quite willing to follow the agenda of the religious right," the Times says. "Even if Mr. Tobias wanted to, he might not be able to resist that pressure," the editorial says, concluding, "It is bad enough that the American program ties the hands of those fighting AIDS. It would be far worse if the Global Fund did so, too" (New York Times, 5/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.