Global health fund fails to select new director

the global fund (c) photoswissGENEVA (AFP) - The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said it had failed to choose a new executive director among five candidates and would renew its search, postponing a decision until April 2007.

The administrative Board, meeting this week in Guatamala, "could not reach consensus," said Board President Carol Jacobs in a statement.

"The new executive director will need strong and broad support to accomplish our life-saving mission. The Board has therefore decided to continue the search process, with the goal of identifying and appointing a new Executive Director by its next Board meeting in April 2007," the statement said.

The term of the current executive director of the Fund, Richard Feachem, comes to an end in March 2007.

Jacobs did not indicate if the next executive director would be ultimately chosen outside the list of five candidates, which includes France's Global HIV/AIDS Ambassador, Michel Kazatchkine and UNAIDS Director of Country and Regional Support, Michel Sibide.

The Fund said the board's voting members are composed of donor and recipient groups consisting of ten members. Candidates must receive a two-thirds majority vote from each group.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed worry Friday over the board's lack of consensus.

"The Ministry is concerned over the potential institutional consequences that could arise as a result of the delay in electing a new executive director of the Global Fund," the ministry's assistant spokesman, Denis Simonneau said.

French favorite Kazatchkine, who has served as the Fund's Vice Chair since last year, told a French radio station that he was led the other four candidates in balloting, but that the Fund's voting regulations were too strict.

Separately, the Fund announced it had approved new grants totaling 604 million dollars (503 million euros), bringing the Fund's total portfolio of grants to 6.4 billion dollars (5.3 billion euros) in 135 countries.

The Fund noted that it hopes to approve another 242 million dollars (190 million dollars) by Friday.

Half of the organization's funds are designated to fight AIDS, while the remainder go to fighting malaria and tuberculosis. Nearly half of new donations will be allocated in Africa, the Fund said.

An international public-private partnership, the Global Fund was founded in 2002 with the goal of preventing and treating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.