Reaction to The Global Fund’s Fifth Replenishment target somewhat muted

23 Jan 2016
AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been the loudest voice

Reaction to the size of The Global Fund’s 5th Replenishment target has been somewhat muted so far, despite the fact that at $13 billion, it is $2 billion lower than the target for the last replenishment, and despite the global push to ending the epidemics by 2030 as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.

While much of the media has been positive in support of The Global Fund’s replenishment campaign and investing in the Fund, reactions to the replenishment target have been few and far between.

One entity that has spoken out, however, is the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization. The AHF has strongly denounced the Fund’s fundraising target, with Terri Ford, Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy stating that “setting a low goal sends the wrong message to the donors.” The AHF also raised concerns over what it views as a disconnect between the target and The Global Fund’s Strategy 2012-2016: Investing for Impact, which lists attracting additional funding sources as an explicit strategic objective. “There’s no place for such a dire sense of defeatism,” said Loretta Wong, the AHF Senior Director of Global Advocacy and Policy.

In order to garner some more insight and reactions to The Global Fund’s replenishment target, GFO canvassed a number of the board constituencies for opinions.

A representative of the Developing Country NGO delegation to The Global Fund Board said that it strongly supports the spirit of the statement by AHF. He said that the delegation considers the target to be “underwhelming,” but reflective of the expected financial operational environment in the next three years. “However,” he said, “it also whispers loudly to the men, women and children affected by the three diseases, saying: ‘Please lower your expectation of us!’ ”

The Developing Country NGO constituency has been vocal in advocating for alternative strategies to broaden the resource pool by soliciting donations to the the Fund from, for example, the G20 countries. But the delegation feels that continued high-level advocacy is required to make this happen and that other constituencies have to be involved. “We owe more to the people we serve,” the representative said. “We owe them ambition. We owe it to them to be more innovative and strategic.”

Other reactions

Although UNAIDS has not commented to date on the size of the fundraising target, its executive director, Michel Sidibé was strongly supportive of The Global Fund’s call for governments, the private sector and other organizations to contribute to the raising the $13 billion. “We have to invest additional resources today… otherwise the deadly trio will claim millions more lives, as well as costing us more in the long run” he said.

In the Latin America and Caribbean Region, Jaevion Nelson, Director of Projects and Strategy at J-FLAG, a Jamaican LGBT rights advocacy organization, and member of the Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN), said he is particularly concerned about the limited involvement of civil society stakeholders in the replenishment efforts. Where there is involvement, he said, “there is seemingly a myopic strategy of engagement of same. There is still no clearly thought-out strategy to include and involve individuals from countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa.”

Mr Nelson also expressed concern about the replenishment efforts being led and developed from the Global North, and about the fact that governments from beneficiary countries are not heavily involved “despite there being champions and spokespersons and service users from these countries.”

Women4Global Fund (W4GF) released a statement calling for donors to “Fully Fund the Global Fund” and stating that the time is now to “bring together the movement for women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health and the movement for universal health coverage.”

Of the donor countries, the U.K. has been a staunch supporter of the Global Fund since its inception. The U.K. has contributed up to one billion pounds ($ 1.4 b) over the 2014-2016 period, making it the third largest contributor among donor countries. The next replenishment cycle comes at a time when the government is reviewing its core contributions through its Multilateral Aid Review. In light of this, the UK House of Commons debated on 12 January, the value of the U.K.’s international aid contribution and the importance of investing in The Global Fund.

The Parliamentary under-secretary of state for international development, Nick Hurd, reassured members that a successful replenishment of the Fund was important both to him personally and to the Government.

The debate underscored the need for continued investment in the Fund, but the need to also focus on the effectiveness of the Fund. The debate also highlighted the issue of middle-income countries that directly affects the U.K’s development agenda. One member said that “if international bodies such as the Global Fund concentrate on other, lower-income countries, there is an imbalance in the resourcing and the focus is wrong.”

More reactions to come?

More reactions are expected in February, after the Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) hosts a 5th replenishment meeting on 26-28 January 2016 in Amsterdam. The meeting will include participants from the communities delegation and the two NGO delegations to the Board. The meeting will act as a forum for advocates to plan and discuss strategy and activities for the replenishment. Key objectives of this meeting include identifying targets and audiences for advocacy efforts, and determining what the messaging should be, building on the investment case prepared by The Global Fund (see GFO article).

This article was updated on 27 January. Changes were made to the title of Jaevion Nelson and to how his organization, J-Flag, was described. 

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