Details have emerged of how a Ghanaian and Global Fund assisted Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) sexually exploited beneficiaries receiving HIV/AIDS support in the country.
The organization, Ghana Network Association of People Living with HIV (NAP+) led by its executives allegedly requested sexual favours and cash before granting participants of the program wholly funded by the Global Fund what was due them.
This was contained in an 18-page investigative report by the Global Fund titled “Misconduct affecting Global Fund grants”.
According to the donors, executives of the NGO abused their powers that fostered a culture of sexual and financial exploitation.
“Multiple NAP+ executives demanded that program members engage in sexual conduct or provide financial kickbacks in order to access events and benefits supported by grant funds, which constituted corrupt and coercive practices. The executives tacitly and openly enabled each other to perpetuate an exploitative and abusive culture, ” the report revealed.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Global Fund has said it may make “referrals to national authorities for criminal prosecutions or other violations of national laws and support such authorities as necessary throughout the process, as appropriate.”
Executive Director of the Global Fund, Peter Sands said in a letter released on Friday that he was “deeply disturbed” by the findings and that the behaviour was “abhorrent”, according to Reuters.
He added that the fund had “zero tolerance” for sexual exploitation and abuse, adding that further action to prevent, detect and respond to such incidents was planned.
Scope of investigations
In July 2019, the Global Fund Secretariat received an allegation that multiple NAP+ executives were demanding sex acts from HIV program participants as a condition of access to benefits.
OIG opened an investigative assessment in response with support from the Domestic Violence and Victim Services Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service.
During its investigative missions, the OIG interviewed 43 fact witnesses, including five of the nine living NAP+ named subject executives.
Nine program participants reported that they had been sexually exploited and or abused by eight NAP+ national and regional executives in connection with grant activities between 2010 and 2019.
Following the development, the Global Fund in January 2020 re-allocated grant resources to provide ongoing supervision, legal counsel, and capacity building for all program participants at risk of exploitation and abuse.
This led NAP+ to remove its subject executives and later holding elections to replace them in February 2020.
The Global Fund is a partnership designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics.
As an international organization, it mobilizes and invests more than US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in more than 100 countries.