Health Charity Slammed for Raising Thousands but Spending Millions

Philippe Douste-Blazy, chairman of the Millennium Foundation. Photo by: Photo by: United Nations/Evan Schneider

An international health charity is criticized for spending millions in operating costs to mobilize only a few thousand dollars to support patients in poor nations.

The Millennium Foundation raised some USD14,000 from airline travelers while spending USD11 million in salaries, advertising and other operation expenses, according to a report from The Financial Times. The foundation’s directors have ordered a new probe of its operations and were expected to hold a board meeting July 7 to tackle a revised spending strategy.

“How many doses of antiretrovirals, how many bed nets against malaria, how many packs of therapeutic food could have been bought with those wasted [USD11 million]?” said one health activist.

The foundation’s chairman, Philippe Douste-Blazy, announced in 2008 that the Geneva-based organization would launch a campaign in early 2009 to raise financing for UNITAID, an international facility for the purchase of drugs against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, by encouraging customers who buy airline tickets online to click a box and donate USD2. The campaign was projected to mobilize between USD120 million to USD1.8 billion.

“We have requested a clear analysis of the situation …and to set clear priorities and actions for the next six months,” said Jorge Bermudez, executive secretary of UNITAID. “In parallel, we are launching an independent review of [the foundation’s] implementation plan.”

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.