[Ip-health] New York Times: A Contentious List of Finalists for Global Aid Fund Group’s Director

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Feb 15 22:40:06 PST 2017


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/15/health/global-fund-aids-tuberculosis-malaria-director.html

HEALTH

A Contentious List of Finalists for Global Aid Fund Group’s Director

Global Health

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. FEB. 15, 2017


Three candidates to become the next director of the Global Fund to Fight
AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are likely to draw harsh scrutiny from the
fund’s largest donor, the United States.

The nominating committee of the fund’s board on Monday produced a report
naming the three finalists and its rationale for picking them. A copy of
the report was made available to The New York Times.

While all might have been considered excellent candidates for the job in
earlier years, global health officials are worried that their backgrounds
could push the Trump administration away from historical commitments to the
fund.

One candidate, in particular, has used Twitter posts to call Mr. Trump a
fascist, saying he has much in common with ISIS for his anti-Muslim stance.

A spokesman for the Global Fund said on Wednesday that it considered all
three candidates “skilled and highly experienced,” that none would be asked
to withdraw and the election would proceed as scheduled on Feb. 27. The
four-year term of Dr. Mark Dybul, the current executive director, ends on
May 31.

A senior United States government official said administration global
health officials received the three candidates’ names Monday evening and
had not yet met to discuss them.

The fund, which estimates that it has saved 20 million lives since it was
founded in 2002, is well respected. In December, Britain’s foreign aid
agency gave it top grades on a “value for money” assessment of 38 aid
organizations to which it donates.

But the fund has long struggled to raise money. It was originally hoped
that donors would commit $10 billion a year. Instead, it gets less than $5
billion.

The United States has always donated a third of the fund’s budget and is by
far its greatest source of support.

The finalists, selected from a preliminary list of nine, are: Dr. Muhammad
Ali Pate, a former health minister of Nigeria; Subhanu Saxena, a drug
executive who in August stepped down as chief executive of Cipla, a major
Indian pharmaceutical company; and Helen Clark, a former prime minister of
New Zealand who ran the United Nations Development Program.

Dr. Pate, a former World Bank health specialist, is a visiting scholar at
Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health. He has held several Nigerian
government jobs, including health minister, for which he was praised for
improving primary care, training midwives to cut maternal and child
mortality, and fighting polio.

The nominating committee’s report noted misuse of funds at one health
agency run by Dr. Pate, but said there was “no suggestion of impropriety on
his part” and that anticorruption measures he had put in place were not
followed after he left.

In July, however, Dr. Pate posted on Twitter a New Yorker article called
“Being Honest About Trump,” including this summary, “To call the
presumptive Republican Presidential nominee a fascist of some variety is
simply to use a historical label that fits.”

In December 2015, Dr. Pate, a Muslim, shared a series of articles on
Twitter critical of Mr. Trump’s call to ban Muslims.. He shared an article
that noted condemnation of Mr. Trump’s call by British and French leaders
in The Washington Post.

Another post, using a headline with a column in Time by Kareem Kareem Abdul
Jabbar, the retired basketball star, said “Donald Trump has more in common
with ISIS than America.”

Mr. Saxena is a business executive brought up in Britain. He worked for
Citicorp, ran PepsiCo operations in Africa and Russia, and was a longtime
executive for Novartis, a pharmaceutical conglomerate with headquarters in
Switzerland.

He was responsible for increasing production of CoArtem, a malaria drug
that is a mainstay of the Global Fund and the President’s Malaria
Initiative, begun by President George W. Bush’s administration.

>From 2013 to 2016, he was chief executive of Cipla, the Indian drug company
that is one of the Global Fund’s biggest suppliers. He stepped down in
August, citing “family priorities.”

The report noted that, although he was a businessman, he had worked with
governments, regulators and medical charities like Doctors Without Borders.

Yet American officials may look askance at the hiring of an executive from
a large pharmaceutical company for whom the Global Fund has been a major
customer. By 2015, six million Africans were receiving antiretroviral drugs
made by Cipla.

Ms. Clark was elected to New Zealand’s Parliament in 1981 and was prime
minister from 1999 to 2008. She became the administrator of the United
Nations Development Program in 2009 and was, according to the report, “a
reformer, driving much greater organizational efficiency and a major
decentralization.”

The Trump administration has expressed hostility toward United Nations
programs. Internal memos obtained by The New York Times show the new
administration has considered cutting its support for United Nations’
international operations by at least 40 percent.

Yet the development program has never been a particular target of American
conservatives, who tend to criticize the United Nations cultural
organization, population planning agency and peacekeeping operations.

Several people familiar with the fund’s search for a director expressed
dismay over the choices, worrying that each might jeopardize support from
the United States, but none would speak for attribution. One described
himself as distressed; another worried that the candidates had not been
adequately vetted.

Seth Faison, a spokesman for the fund, argued that no candidate should
withdraw.

“Lots of people said things about Trump during the campaign that now are
working with him,” he said of Dr. Pate.

Of Mr. Saxena and Ms. Clark, he said, United Nations connections and
business connections were unavoidable in virtually any candidate not from a
major donor country. The director does not oversee buying from drug
companies, he said, and the fund gives money to many recipients, including
$300 million to United Nations Development Program and $800 million to
Nigeria.

“Anyone who ever worked in any government that got funds from the Global
Fund would be off limits, which is not realistic,” he said.

A director could recuse himself from decisions with potential conflicts, he
said, and a different fund representative could approach the United States
during the next appeal for donations, which typically occur at three-year
intervals.



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