AHF: Global Fund Head Must Resign over Mishandling of Venezuelan Crisis

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The following is an open letter to the Board of Directors of the Global
Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
seeking the resignation
of the Fund’s Executive Director, Dr. Mark Dybul.

10 February 2017

Dear Board Members of the Global Fund,

In light of the recent refusal by the Global Fund Secretariat to take
leadership and urgently help save the lives of people affected by
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Venezuela, AIDS Healthcare
Foundation (AHF)
joins the Venezuelan Network of Positive People (RGV+) in calling for
the immediate resignation of the Global Fund Executive Director, Dr.
Mark Dybul.

The Global Fund Secretariat showed a wanton lack of care and concern by
taking seven months to respond to a desperate plea for help from RGV+.
At the very least, the Secretariat should have acknowledged the letter
in a timely manner. It appears the leadership of the Global Fund is out
of touch with realities on the ground in crisis hotspots like Venezuela,
where people are dying or are at risk of dying every day without
antiretroviral drugs, HIV test kits and diagnostics and treatment for
tuberculosis.

The response from the Global Fund and a subsequent follow-up letter
maintain that Venezuela is not eligible for assistance because it does
not meet the eligibility criteria based on its former status as a High
Income Country. This is an absurd technicality. According to World Bank
historical data from 1998 to present, Venezuela was classified as a High
Income Country for only one year, in 2014.[1] In all other years it was
classified as an Upper Middle Income Country, which would make it
eligible for funding.

What’s worse, following the release of the Equitable Access Initiative
report, the Global Fund indicated it will no longer rely on World Bank
classifications to determine funding eligibility, yet their use
persists.[2] Thus, now we are in a situation where Iran, a petro-state
and an Upper Middle Income Country like Venezuela, is slated to receive
over $10 million from the Global Fund for 2017-2019, while Venezuela
will get nothing.[3]

We would like to remind the Board that it has made exceptions to the
eligibility criteria in emergency situations before. For example, in
2009 the Board approved emergency funding for Russia even though it
acknowledged that “under the current income eligibility policies of the
Global Fund, the Russian Federation is not eligible for funding for
HIV/AIDS funding.” It further noted that, “the income eligibility
policies of the Global Fund will be reviewed by the Portfolio and
Implementation Committee in 2010 for approval by the Board at its second
meeting in 2010.”[4]

Contrary to what Dr. Dybul asserts in the response to RGV+, the internal
Global Fund policies are not the real reason why people in Venezuela
cannot receive help. The victims of the worst humanitarian crisis in
South America are paying the price with their health and lives for a
geopolitical standoff in the region.

If Dr. Dybul has been prevented from intervening in Venezuela under
pressure to comply with a foreign policy agenda, he must resign in
protest. Staying in his post would mean that for the Global Fund,
politics take precedence over global public health, a position that is
misaligned with the Fund’s mission to save lives.

As the Global Fund undertakes the search for a new Executive Director in
the coming weeks, we urge the Board to ask for the resignation of Dr.
Dybul in the strongest possible terms. The lack of responsiveness, human
empathy for the suffering of others and the unwillingness to take a
principled stance to protect public health while facing political
pressure demonstrate that it’s time for a change in leadership at the
Global Fund. The Global Fund needs a strong leader who will boldly fight
to save lives, relentlessly advocate for more resources and will be
unafraid to challenge unhelpful bureaucracies and governments.

Sincerely,

Michael Weinstein, AHF President

[1] The World Bank, Historical classification by income, https://goo.gl/W4vuCC
[2]
The Global Fund, Equitable Access Initiative, http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/equitableaccessinitiative/
[3]
The Global Fund, 2017 – 2019 allocations, http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/fundingmodel/process/allocations/
[4]
The Global Fund, Board decision point, http://www.theglobalfund.org/Knowledge/Decisions/GF/B20/DP29/

Contacts

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea
Senior Director,
Communications
+1.323.308.1833 work
+1.323.791.5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org