Richard Feachem, the British-born UCSF professor who has run the
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria almost since
its inception in 2002, is stepping down as executive director
when his latest term ends in July.
He announced his decision in a written statement issued Friday
from the Global Fund headquarters in Geneva.
Feachem said he was looking forward to returning to the Bay Area,
where he was director of the Institute for Global Health, run
jointly by UCSF and UC Berkeley, where he still holds
professorships. "Home for us is San Francisco, and we have family
and friends there with whom we would like to spend more time,"
In the nearly four years that Feachem ran the nonprofit, United
Nations-inspired organization, Global Fund raised billions of
dollars in pledges for international assistance to fight the
three major scourges of the developing world, but ultimately fell
far short of the expectations of its most ardent advocates.
During his tenure, the Global Fund committed $4.9 billion to
disease-fighting programs in 131 countries, amassing pledges from
wealthier countries of more than $8.5 billion.
However, actual spending on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria
programs in that time has totaled just $2 billion -- a long way
from the goal envisioned by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of
a program that would devote at least $7 billion to $10 billion a
year to fight the diseases.
"The Global Fund has never come close to the cruising altitude
originally envisioned," said Northeastern University law
professor Brook Baker, a policy analyst for the Health Gap
Baker faults Feachem for placating the major donors such as the
United States, which AIDS advocates criticize for global
"From the beginning, he said the U.S. contribution was
sufficient, but all the while the U.S. was undercutting the
Global Fund," said Baker.
The United States has been the largest single contributor to the
Global Fund, but the Bush administration has placed the lion's
share of its overseas AIDS spending into the president's own
program emphasizing direct assistance to hard-hit countries.
U.S. Global AIDS coordinator Randall Tobias, who said two years
ago that the Global Fund needed to slow down, praised Feachem on
Friday as a strong and effective advocate.
Feachem has spent much of his time trying to coax wealthy
countries to increase their contributions to the organization.
This year, he began a program to encourage private corporations
to raise large sums as well.
Pledges to the Global Fund are $1 billion short of its goal for
2006; for next year international help will have to increase by
$2.6 billion to meet Feachem's targets.
Still, Feachem's four years mark an extraordinary acceleration of
international spending for diseases in poor countries. Global
Fund programs have put 384,000 people on AIDS drugs -- most them
low-cost generics that Feachem embraced despite pressure to use
discounted brand-name medications from major pharmaceuticals
The program has distributed 7.7 million insecticide-treated bed
nets to combat malaria, and provided antibiotic therapy for 1
million tuberculosis patients.
Although Feachem's two-year contract with the Global Fund expires
in July, he pledged to stay on with the organization for as long
as requested to provide enough time to choose a successor.