Update: On Nov. 14, the Global Fund appointed Peter Sands as the new executive director, after Sands decided to re-enter the race on Nov. 13. Read our analysis of the appointment and our exclusive interview with Sands following the announcement.
MANILA — Peter Sands, one of the candidates in the running to lead the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has dropped out of the race, the Global Fund confirmed to Devex.
“Peter Sands informed the Global Fund Board on Nov. 10 that he was withdrawing his candidacy for Executive Director, for personal reasons,” Global Fund Director of Communications Seth Faison said, after a query from Devex.
Sands, believed to be the frontrunner in the race, withdrew his candidacy just three days before the board is scheduled to select the Global Fund’s new executive director on Nov. 14-15. Faison said the board will now proceed with the remaining three finalists.
Devex reached out to Sands but had not heard back from him at the time of publication.
Sands was seen by many as the top pick of several high profile members of the fund’s board, according to conversations Devex had with global health insiders in recent weeks. His rumored supporters included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the fund’s biggest donors. Thus news of his withdrawal comes as a surprise.
Sands’ departure means the board will to choose between Simon Bland of UNAIDS; Frannie Leautier, formerly of the African Development Bank; and Anil Soni of global pharmaceutical company Mylan.
The search for the next Global Fund executive director has been controversial from the get-go. Early this year, the board restarted the search for the fund’s new executive director after encountering “issues” in the recruitment process.
The Global Fund is a “partnership organization” that raises money from governments and nongovernmental donors to finance country efforts to combat three of the world’s deadliest diseases. The fund has an annual budget of roughly $4 billion and has been operating under the leadership of interim executive director Marijke Wijnroks since June.
Michael Igoe contributed reporting to this story.