Group warns against elitism in Global AIDS Trust Fund

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- A Washington-based pressure group, Constituency for Africa, or CFA has warned against the dangers of turning the proposed Global AIDS Trust Fund into an elitist group that would be answerable to a select few.
In a document titled: 'HIV/AIDS Global Trust Fund: a proposed organisational structure' issued at the weekend, the African American group suggested that "the leadership of the Trust Fund must run an open, transparent, ethical, and accessible program.
" CFA said that in the fight against AIDS "we cannot afford an organisation that is answerable to a select few, accessible to a privileged group of 'experts' and responsive to the whims and caprices of faceless pressure groups.
" Co-authors of the proposal - Chinua Akukwe, Board Member, and Melvin Foote, President/CEO of the CFA who have also been advocating for an AIDS Marshall Plan for Africa, underscored the urgency with the fund should be put in place.
The pro-Africa lobby group proposed a 34-member board of trustees, the highest decision making body to undertake the strategic leadership of the Fund.
CAF proposed members of this board be drawn from both the donor and the recipient nations.
"The Board will approve requests for grant-funded programs after careful reviews and deliberations.
In addition, the Board will appoint the staff of the Global Fund secretariat, and supervise their activities.
"The Board of Trustees will comprise proven men and women in various disciplines with experience in public, private, and civil society governance issues," CFA stated.
It suggested that the Chair of the Board of Trustees should come from one of the G-8 countries and the Vice Chair from the recipient nations.
Akukwe and Foote also recommended that the finance, technical and logistics and training committees should be included on the Board of Trustees.
They further suggested that the finance committee should be headed by a representative of the South, whereas the technical committee would deal with the professional issues of HIV/AIDS and other chosen health conditions.
The document said the logistics committee should work on infrastructure and the movement of goods and services, while the Training committee should focus on clinical training programs, volunteer training, and community mobilisation issues.
"The Board will provide intellectual leadership to the Trust Fund.
It will serve as a forum for sounding out complex issues confronting the Trust Fund.
"We propose a 20-member Board with a non-renewable term of 3 years.
We feel that the Trust Fund should not become an avenue for the creation of an elitist class of 'world class experts'".
CFA recommended that opportunities should be given to other professionals to participate in the activities of the Trust Fund.
"The Board should include experts in medicine, public health and development.
The Board should comprise 8 members from the G-8 nations, 8 members from the recipient nations, and 4 members appointed on special merit," the report further said.
"We propose that the Chair of the Board should come from the South and the Vice Chair from the North.
We recommend a five-year term for the executive officers of the Trust Fund, with a rare renewable second term.
We believe that the leadership of the Trust Fund should be 'fresh,' energetic and responsive to new ideas and opportunities.
" The document further recommended that the Director- General/CEO of the Global Trust Fund, should be an expert on both HIV/AIDS and development.
It said a representative for the post should come from the South and should preferably be from Africa, the epicentre of the pandemic.
Akukwe and Foote said the Director General's office would likely include a small core of support staff such as a Chief of Staff, a special assistant, a board liaison officer, a public relations officer, and an executive assistant.
They said the Deputy Director General/Chief Operating Officer who would manage the day-to-day activities of the Fund should come from the North.
Other positions include those of the Executive Director, Finance from the North to be complemented by a senior financial officer dealing with financial policies and regulations; a senior financial officer to deal with disbursements, grants management, conferences, travel expenses, and training expenditures; and a senior financial officer for special duties and exigencies.
The two CFA officials also proposed the appointment of an Executive Director, Logistics; Executive Director, Technical Services to provide leadership on HIV/AIDS and other chosen health conditions in the South.
"The Trust Fund leadership should work with the UN Country teams, host governments, the civil society and the private sector to implement delivery channels that meet the needs of the target population," the report concluded.

23 july 2001 14:11:00

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