Fund playing hardball

December 20th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

The Global Fund has threatened to suspend or reduce health grants to Cambodia totalling more than $100 million if the Ministry of Health, the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STD (NCHADS) and NGO umbrella group MEDiCAM fail to meet a 30-day deadline to return funds identified as “misused” by a Global Fund probe.

In a letter sent to Health Minister Mam Bun Heng on December 9 and obtained yesterday by the Post, the Global Fund says that if $472,841 is not refunded within 30 days of that date, the fund may not proceed with, suspend or reduce grants totalling $106 million. The bulk of funds to be returned – $410,712 requested from the Health Ministry – relates to improper commissions received by senior officials at the National Malaria Center from international mosquito net suppliers between 2006 and 2012. …

Grants that could be affected come January 9 – the end of the 30-day deadline – include an HIV/AIDS grant worth $57 million, malaria-related grants worth about $28 million and a “Health Systems Strengthening Grant” worth almost $21 million.

Health NGOs yesterday said moves to suspend or reduce those grants could seriously affect programs addressing malaria and HIV/AIDS in the Kingdom. But despite the Global Fund’s tough words, the Health Ministry does not appear to be rushing to meet the deadline. …

Kevin Ponniah and Mom Kunthear
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/fund-playing-hardball