Thursday, 14 November

Global Fund Rep Points to ”Botched” TB Drug Purchase

Hetq speaks to Ms. Sandra Irbe, the Global Fund’s Program Officer for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

There is no information on what was the indicator of the program Round 8 TB grant from April to June 2010. Why this indicator is not included in your website?

There were some delays with updating our website with the latest information on grants. The rating was communicated to in-country stakeholders on 10 December 2010.

We were informed that during this period the progress indicator of the program was “C”. Is it true that The Global Fund reduced the amount of Round 8 TB Quarter 5 and 6 due to “C” indicator rating (68 per cent)?

Indeed, as you can see from the Management letter here enclosed.

Is there any period that Armenia got ”C” for the program implementation (besides above mentioned)?

No. There were many instances where the Round 5 TB grant was downgraded to “B2” rating due to management issues (and this under Mr. Poghosyan’s management).

We have information that The Global Fund Secretariat has taken a decision on outsourcing of the procurement of main items to a UN organization staring from 01 January 2011 under all Global Fund grants implemented by the Ministry of Health. Is it true and what have been done in this direction?

The PR submitted to us, on 22 December 2010, a letter outlining the steps it will undertake to strengthen the procurement function. Yet, no decision has been taken in this regard, given the latest changes in the procurement legislation for which no mechanism has been established yet (i.e. the legislative changes have been made but no mechanism how to implement those has been set up, therefore no procurement activity can be conducted) and our grants are again at a stand-still in terms of procurement activities. As I mentioned in the interview and during my meetings with high level officials in the country, the current state systems do not allow for sufficient flexibility for successfully realizing grant activities. Alternative solutions need to be found and we are currently examining them.

We would like to know whether  The Global Fund management is properly informed about the on-going performance of  projects it funds in Armenia.

Of course; detailed information is regularly submitted to the Global Fund management, and when applicable, to the Office of the Inspector General.

In our previous conversation you noted that Mr. V. Poghosyan had been running the program ineffectively, but Mr. Poghosyan had not been managing the program for the period when Armenia received a “C” rating. How can you explain this?

The Program Coordination Team has been severely understaffed during the period of Mr. Poghosyan’s tenure. Moreover, the team included several junior staff members with no appropriate experience in implementing programs of similar scale. As a result, many delays were accumulated that could not be immediately resolved by the new management of the Program Coordination Team.

Do you know that the Control Service of RA Prime Minister investigated various Global Fund programs and found   many violations?

Indeed. Strangely enough, one of the criticisms appearing in the review was the recruitment of Dr Ovsanna Najaryan as Program Coordination Team’s Manager, which illustrates a certain lack of capability on what type of manager is required for managing the Global Fund-supported programs. There were other findings (excellent management under Mr. Poghosyan versus failures in 2010, ineffective staffing changes, etc.) that I personally found slightly biased and I attribute them to political interferences on behalf of those implementers who are interested in maintaining the previous management patterns. Potential reasons for this interest have been communicated to the management of the Global Fund Secretariat and to the Office of the Inspector General as being eventually linked to conflict of interest situations and suboptimum procurement practices (as illustrated in the recent Procurement Review – periods reviewed fall under Mr. Poghosyan’s management).

Were you aware that the expiration date for TB medicine (provided by The Global Fund) had passed? What are you going to do?

The drugs – it was an issue with poor ordering of second line drugs – under Mr. Poghosyan – he ordered all drugs for second line treatment for the whole duration of treatment of two years to be delivered at once, instead of staggered deliveries to avoid expiries. At the same time, it was the first time such a drug order took place so mistakes are common. We have taken the necessary steps to avoid losses, such as cooperating with Medecins Sans Frontieres to use drugs with longer expiry dates first.

But we have still not been told the total amount of drugs lost. The subsequent order of drugs has been made with staggered shipments.

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