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. 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. 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.
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.”
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.
Michael Weinstein, AHF President
 The World Bank, Historical classification by income, https://goo.gl/W4vuCC
 The Global Fund, Equitable Access Initiative, http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/equitableaccessinitiative/
 The Global Fund, 2017 – 2019 allocations, http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/fundingmodel/process/allocations/
 The Global Fund, Board decision point, http://www.theglobalfund.org/Knowledge/Decisions/GF/B20/DP29/