[Ip-health] Science: After fracas, Global Fund abandons plan to pick new chief and reopens search

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Mon Feb 27 21:20:52 PST 2017

fracas, Global Fund abandons plan to pick new chief and reopens search

By Jon Cohen <http://www.sciencemag.org/author/jon-cohen>Feb. 27, 2017 ,
6:15 PM

Leaks. Concerns about alienating President Donald Trump. Allegations about
conflicts of interest. All of those reasons factored in to a surprise
decision today by the board of the Global Fund
<http://www.theglobalfund.org/> to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to
restart its search for a new executive director.

“Due to issues encountered in the recruitment process, the Board felt they
were unable to bring the process to conclusion,” reads a statement
by the Global Fund, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Since its launch in 2002, the Global Fund has given mainly poor countries
more than $30 billion to fight public health threats. Donors to the fund
include governments, foundations, and private industry, with the United
States contributing about one-third
the total. Mark Dybul, the current head of the Global Fund, plans to step
down at the end of May, and the group was expected today to select his
successor from three candidates identified during a search this winter.

Global Fund officials have asked its board members not to publicly discuss
details of today’s decision to relaunch the search. The Global Fund’s
spokesperson did not respond to an email. The Lancet published a story
today about the flap
and ScienceInsider has spoken with several people close to the proceedings.

They say the trouble first surfaced when a Global Fund committee overseeing
the nominations for the job wrote a report that ranked the top three
candidates. The New York Times obtained a copy of the report, submitted to
the Board 13 February, and ran a story
days later that said one candidate, former Nigerian Health Minister
Muhammad Ali Pate, “has used Twitter posts to call Mr. Trump a fascist,
saying he has much in common with ISIS for his anti-Muslim stance.” The
story also said that “American officials may look askance” at a second
candidate, Subhanu Saxena, who formerly headed the generic drug company
Cipla, which has sold large volumes of drugs to the Global Fund. The third
candidate was Helen Clark, head of the United Nations Development Program
and previously a prime minister of New Zealand. According to the Times,
Clark’s background raised concerns because the Trump administration “has
expressed hostility toward United Nations programs.”

According to one insider, the Board’s report on the candidates leaked to
Clark early. She removed herself from the running, sending a statement to
the Board that said she had concerns with the process.

In an email, Pate stated that he has no plans to reapply for the job,
noting that he was told the process was merit based and that he was the
first-ranked candidate in the report. “The Global Fund Board's decision is
unfair and unjustified,” Pate wrote. He charges that during the vetting
process, “several efforts were made to question my candidacy on the basis
that I was a Muslim, or that I am of Nigerian origin,” which he complained
“smacks heavily of racism and Islamophobia that is now finding its roots in
a respectable Global Health partnership of the Global Fund.” He wrote that
it is “sad to see the Global Fund Board lacking the courage to stand up
against discrimination.”

Contrary to what the Times reported, Pate did not call Trump a fascist or
suggest he had much in common with the Islamic State group. The Times story
did later explain that Pate was forwarding Tweets from others that made
these claims, one of which was a New Yorker
and the other a headline
<http://time.com/4143003/kareem-abdul-jabbar-donald-trump-isis/> from Time

People familiar with the board’s deliberation today told ScienceInsider
that there was little hope of reaching consensus about the two remaining
candidates, and the participants generally agreed that the search process,
conducted over the past 3 months—which included the holiday in December
2016—had been rushed. “And there were real concerns that because of the
leaks, the process wasn’t fair,” says one. “The Global Fund is a
well-functioning machine. This is one of the major global health entities
in the world, and it has a vision and a strategy but needs a leader to
inspire confidence, especially to the donors.”
Posted in:

   - People & Events <http://www.sciencemag.org/category/people-events>
   - Scientific Community

DOI: 10.1126/science.aal0835

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