- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KAMPALA, Uganda - The government has appointed an inter- national audit firm to oversee its anti-AIDS pro-grams after the suspension of more than $150 million in grants by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a senior official said yesterday.

Ernst and Young will assume responsibility of Uganda’s Project Management Unit, which runs Global Fund-supported programs in the country, until concerns about mismanagement that led to the suspension of the aid are resolved, the official said.

“Ernst and Young will now act as the PMU to enable transition to a new structure that will manage the fund,” said Mike Mukula, a senior Health Ministry official.

“They will be managing procurement of drugs and condoms, including medicine for TB and malaria, [anti-retroviral drugs] and condoms,” he said, adding that the company was chosen after intense discussions between the Health Ministry and senior officials from the Geneva-based Global Fund.

In addition, a committee led by a court judge was formed to investigate the operations of the anti-AIDS project.

Mr. Mukula said the visiting Global Fund officials, led by the group’s chief of operations, Brad Herbert, assured the Kampala government that the agency still has “a lot of confidence in us and promised to lift the suspension very soon.”

“They are not accusing us of any corruption or embezzlement of the funds, they are only questioning the way the Project Management Unit was appointed,” Mr. Mukula said.

Mr. Herbert welcomed the appointment of auditors.

“There was need to have some structural changes in the management of the fund, and the government has jump-started the process by taking measures quickly,” he said.

“It will take a few weeks, and I believe the suspension would be lifted soon or later — possibly in October,” Mr. Herbert added.

Less than a week after the Global Fund announced its suspension, Uganda was accused by health advocates of succumbing to U.S. pressure to eliminate condom use in favor of promoting abstinence in its previously successful programs against HIV/AIDS.

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