Friday, June 22, 2007

PEPFAR in 2004, 2005 Did Not Keep Accurate HIV/AIDS Service Delivery Data, Effectively Monitor Grant Recipients, Audits, Officials Say

The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief's push for "fast results" has meant that "basic record keeping and accountability often went by the wayside," according to several government audits and officials who looked at 2004 and 2005 services delivered to people living with HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR grant recipients, the AP/Yahoo! News reports. Government investigators said PEPFAR "overcounted and undercounted" people targeted by the program and could not authenticate local groups' claims of success in preventing the spread of HIV or caring for people living with the virus. According to the AP/Yahoo! News, the Bush administration has worked to fix the problems found in the countries cited in the audits. PEPFAR, which was launched in 2003, aims to treat two million HIV-positive people by 2008, prevent seven million new HIV infections, and provide care and support services to 10 million HIV-positive people and orphans. Joe Farinella, assistant inspector general for USAID, oversaw the investigations into how PEPFAR money was spent overseas in 2004 and 2005. He said that many recipients neglected to keep records that would provide "reasonable assurance that what they say was done was in fact carried out." The 2006 annual PEPFAR report to Congress said 5,200 AIDS orphans in Guyana received services under the program, but auditors documented fewer than 300 orphans received services, and many of those who did receive services were not affected by AIDS, according to the AP/Yahoo! News. According to auditors, about 83% of the records from subcontractors in Guyana for Family Health International, one of the largest recipients of PEPFAR grants, were erroneous or unsubstantiated. An Aug. 11, 2006, audit found that some provincial governments in South Africa declined to give information on HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, leading to "severe underreporting" in the number patients who were helped by PEPFAR funding.