It was a papal conclave save for the plume of white smoke. At 17h04 on Thursday, 15 November 2012, the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced that Dr Mark Dybul would be the organization’s next Executive Director following a process marked by opacity and secrecy that would do the Vatican proud. Dybul (former United States Global AIDS Coordinator) beat a field of three other candidates that included, Monique Barbut (France), Robert Greenhill (Canada) and Barbara Stocking (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). Monique Barbut was the former CEO of the Global Environmental Facility while Barbara Stocking is the outgoing Chief Executive of Oxfam GB. Robert Greenhill was formerly president of the Canadian International Development Agency and currently the Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.
According to informed sources, President George W. Bush personally called heads of state of developing country members of the Board on behalf of Dybul’s candidacy.
After the first round of voting, the field of four was winnowed down to two: 1) Mark Dybul and 2) Robert Greenhill. The Board of the Global Fund is made up of voting members; 10 voting members are donors, and 10 voting members are implementers (developing countries and non-governmental organizations). According to the Financial Times (UN health fund names new chief, 15 November 2012), France and one other member abstained from the decision to appoint Dybul as Executive Director. However, other sources indicated that in the voting, the Communities, France, Germany and the Point Seven Group (Ireland, Denmark, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) opposed Dybul’s candidacy. Interestingly, the European Commission representing Belgium, Finland, Portugal, Italy and Spain) supported Dybul’s candidacy. For a full picture of the Global Fund Board, please see: http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/board/members/
A prescient New York Times piece from November 2011 foreshadowed Dybul’s emergence as its new Executive Director:
One person mentioned as a possible American candidate for a leadership job at the fund is Dr. Mark R. Dybul, the Bush administration’s last director of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, who was ousted from that job by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton when she took office. He seems to have repaired his relationship with her, since he was in the front row at her recent speech on AIDS at the National Institutes of Health (Global Fund Will Pause New Grants and Seek New Manager, 23 November 2011).
After the rancorous presidential election in the United States, it is remarkable to witness Dybul’s re-emergence after years in the political wilderness fresh on the heels of President Obama’s re-election. Perhaps in light of his track record as an advocate for abstinence only programs and his antipathy to Indian generics, Dybul was quick to point to the future with the Financial Times noting that,
The most important thing is to look forward, not to the past. The US funded more condoms than all other sources and 90 per cent of all antiretrovirals are generics (UN health fund names new chief, 15 November 2012).
Donald McNeil also reported on the appointment, noting:
Dr. Dybul’s appointment was welcomed by the United Nations AIDS program, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Malaria No More and Results.org, an anti-poverty lobbying group. By contrast, Jamie Love, an American advocate for cheaper AIDS drugs who works in Washington and Geneva, said he expected Dr. Dybul “to protect drug companies.” Donald G. McNeil, Jr, Global Fund Sees Changes, Not All of Them Welcomed, New York Times, November 15, 2012