GENEVA--The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has selected Edelman to handle its public relations assignment.

The appointment follows a review last year in Geneva that included incumbent firm Hill & Knowlton, along with Finsbury and Freud Communications. Edelman is handed an account worth around $400K per year, overseeing the Global Fund’s PR and media training.

A Global Fund procurement executive confirmed Edelman’s selection, but noted that contracts had yet to be signed.

The agency hire follows a difficult year at the Global Fund, which saw the world’s largest financier of anti-AIDS, TB and malaria programmes accused of corruption and misuse of funds, amid reports that it is facing a funding shortfall.

However, Global Fund communications director Jon Liden has pointed out that the PR review was a “routine renewal of PR services”, given the expiry of the previous three-year agency contract. In a comment on the Holmes Report’s story last year, Liden said that there is “no need” for the organisation to hire a PR agency to “regain credibility”.

“In grant payments of more than US$14 billion to 150 countries, there is no surpirse that we have found some irregularities,” said Liden. “While this has led to a healthy debate about the Global Fund and how it should evolve in its second decade of existence this year, no donor has walked away from the Fund.”

“While the press has had a field day shooting the messenger of a new level of transparency in development aid, the Global Fund has continued its development towards an ever more efficient channel for health funding,” added Liden. ‘Good PR services are part of our strategy to be excellent in all we do.”

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a public/private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. At the end of 2010, it had approved funding of US$21.7 billion, supporting more than 600 programmes in 150 countries.

According to a copy of the initial RFP, the Global Fund sought support for PR, crisis comms and media training, with a particular focus on such areas as development finance, poverty reduction, global public health and health systems.