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[afro-nets] Frenchman to lead Global Fund
- From: Claudio Schuftan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 10:23:50 +0700
Frenchman to lead fund fighting AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria
From: "Vern Weitzel" <email@example.com>
GENEVA: Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, France's ambassador for the
international battle against the AIDS epidemic, was chosen
Thursday to head the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Malaria, ending months of uncertainty for the US$ 7 billion (?
5.4 billion) organization.
Kazatchkine, a former director of the French National Agency for
AIDS research, will succeed Briton Richard Feachem, whose term
at the head of the independent fund expires in March and who has
recently come under fire over allegations of lavish spending
Global Fund spokesman Jon Liden said Kazatchkine was elected by
a two-thirds majority vote of the fund's board comprised of
national health officials, U.N. and World Bank representatives,
company executives and campaigners. The other candidates under
consideration were Dr. David Nabarro, who has been guiding the
United Nations' efforts against the deadly bird flu virus, and
Ugandan AIDS chief Alex Coutinho.
Kazatchkine, a 60-year-old immunologist who studied at Necker-
Enfants-Malades in Paris and the Harvard Medical School in
Boston, said he would focus on strengthening partnerships at the
global and local levels to "fight against three deadly diseases
that kill 15,000 people a day."
"I've been described ... as a scientist, as a diplomat, as a
public health expert," he told journalists on a conference call.
"But my very first quality, somehow, is to be a physician. I
have been a physician treating patients with AIDS for over 20
The Global Fund was an initiative conceived by the world's
richest governments at the 2001 Group of Eight economic summit
in Genoa, Italy, where they pledged to step up funding to fight
HIV/AIDS and other global epidemics.
It has spent some US$ 3.3 billion in more than 130 countries
since it was created, providing treatment for more than 770,000
people with AIDS and 2 million others with tuberculosis. It has
given out more than 18 million bed nets to prevent bites from
the mosquitoes that spread malaria.
The Geneva-based body had been trying to find a successor to
Feachem for months, but its board could not reach consensus on a
single candidate and put the decision off at a conference in
Guatemala last November.
The fund also has been on the defensive because of allegations
that Feachem spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (euros) on
limousines, expensive meals, boat cruises and other expenses.
The Boston Globe revealed earlier this week the details of an
internal investigation, which suggested Feachem's spending
habits created "potential risks," including loss of donor
confidence because of "inadequate internal controls over funds."
Global Fund officials disputed the accuracy, context and
fairness of the inspector-general's report.
"I am not familiar with the inspector-general's report,"
Kazatchkine said. "Whether that should be made public or not, I
cannot really express an opinion here."
The fund receives its contributions from governments as well as
from business corporations and private foundations. The U.S.
government provides about a third of all funding and is the
largest donor. Last week, the House of Representatives approved
a US$ 724 million (? 557 million) contribution to the fund.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the biggest private
contributor, having pledged a total of US$ 650 million.
Kazatchkine began working with AIDS in 1983 as a young clinical
immunologist, when he treated a French couple who had returned
from Africa with unexplained immune deficiency, according to a
biography posted on the Web site of the French Foreign Ministry.
He started a clinic in Paris two years later that is still in
operation, currently treating more than 1,600 people. He has
published over 600 research papers and led France's AIDS
research institute, the world's second largest with a budget of
US$65 million, from 1998-2005.
Kazatchkine also has experience with AIDS programs in Africa,
Asia, Eastern Europe and South America, according to the
ministry, for which he has worked since 2005 as global HIV/AIDS
and communicable diseases ambassador.