Global Fund To Review India Programs After World Bank Report Uncovers Fraud in Bank-Sponsored Health Projects, Official Says
The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria plans to review its programs in India after the World Bank announced it had uncovered fraud in its programs in the country, Taufiqur Rahman, Global Fund head of grants for South and West Asia, said on Friday, Reuters India reports (Allen, Reuters India, 2/1).
The World Bank last month announced that it has uncovered serious incidents of fraud and corruption in five bank-funded health projects worth about $570 million. A detailed internal review, launched in 2006 by the bank's Department of Institutional Integrity with support from the Indian government, found illegal activity in projects, including those focused on curbing malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB, which dates as far back as 1997. The review found that some of the HIV test kits for the $194 million HIV/AIDS Control Project "often performed poorly by producing erroneous or invalid results, potentially resulting in the further spread of disease." In addition, the report found inadequate facilities and evidence that the bank repeatedly ignored that the corruption was occurring (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/14).
The Global Fund said it does not have evidence of fraud occurring in any of its programs in the country, which are worth about $170 million. Rahman said the review is necessary to ensure Global Fund's "investments are protected." Rahman added that the only complaints he has heard about Global Fund programs in India involve a delay in receiving funds.
Rahman said the review is a "priority" for the Global Fund, adding that the organization will "come down very hard" if there is "any hint of corruption." When asked whether he expects the review to find fraud, Rahman said the Global Fund does not "want to get into a situation where we're making assumptions" regarding fraud, adding that it is "not fair to the country." Rahman said he hopes the review, which will be conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, will begin this week.
The Indian government is examining the World Bank report and has said it will punish people who have committed fraud. The World Bank report was the fourth report since 2005 to find signs of fraud in the country, Reuters India reports (Reuters India, 2/1).