4 May 2010

Round 10 will be launched on May 20; applicants will then have three months, instead of the usual four, to prepare their applications. The Board will decide which proposals to approve at its meeting on 13-15 December 2010.

This decision was made at the Global Fund Board meeting that took place in Geneva on April 28-30. The main features of the decision are as follows:

  1. Cap placed on cost of Round 10. A cap has been imposed on how much money can be committed by the Fund for all Round 10 grants together, though no cap has been placed on the costs of individual grants. The cap equals the amount of money that donors give to the Fund for use by the end of 2011 (after setting aside money to pay for Phase 2 of grants approved in previous rounds). If the TRP recommends for approval proposals whose total cost for Phase 1 (i.e., Years 1 and 2) exceeds this amount, not all of those proposals will be approved.

    (At earlier Board meetings that dealt with Rounds 8 and 9, TRP-recommended proposals were put into a queue, with the understanding that all would be approved but that approval for each would be delayed until funding became available, however long that took. With Round 10, some board members worried that the cost of Round 10 might be so great that it might be two or three years before there was any money for Round 11; hence the decision that each proposal would only be approved if sufficient funding became available by a specified date. This is, in fact, the same approach that was followed with Rounds 5 and 6. As it turned out, in those two rounds sufficient funding did became available by the specified date to fund all TRP-recommended proposals. That might or might not arise with Round 10; it depends upon demand and pledges.)

  2. New prioritisation criteria. As funding becomes available, the order in which TRP-recommended proposals will be approved will depend upon a mixture of the proposal's technical merit, the country's poverty level and the country's disease burden. A proposal that the TRP deems technically worthy of approval but that it doesn't score technically very high (e.g., Category 2B) could still be given a higher priority than a technically very strong proposal (e.g., Category 1) if the proposal that is less technically strong comes from a country with a higher poverty level and disease burden.

    (TRP-recommended proposals are placed by the TRP into three "technical merit groups" - Category 1, Category 2, and Category 2B. In the past, if there was not enough funding to immediately pay for all TRP-recommended proposals, proposals in the higher technical-merit categories were given priority. If there was not enough money to fund all proposals within a given category, the proposals in that category were given a higher priority if they came from countries with a high poverty level and/or disease burden. But for Round 10, a mix of all three factors will be used in determining prioritisation. This issue was of great concern to Board members, because of the awareness that, per the decision discussed in (a) above, the TRP-recommended proposals with the lowest priority ranking might end up not being approved if there is not enough money. For further details, see Article 3.)

  3. Special funding for concentrated epidemics. Countries that have concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemics within "Most-at-Risk Populations" (MARPs) will have access to a special pool of money for Round 10. Any country that meets the standard eligibility criteria and that wishes to apply for an HIV Round 10 grant has the option, instead of submitting a "conventional" HIV application, of applying for funding of up to $5 million for Phase 1 and up to $12.5 million for Phase 1 plus 2 to meet the needs of one or more most-at-risk populations for HIV/AIDS. Lower-middle and upper-middle income countries submitting such proposals are urged to clearly demonstrate increasing government contribution over the proposal lifetime. The total amount to be approved across all such Round 10 proposals is capped at $75 million for Phase 1 and $200 million for Phases 1 plus 2.

    ("Most-at-risk" populations, among whom there are often concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemics even in countries where prevalence levels among the general population are low, include injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers, migrants and prisoners, among others. Prioritisation criteria for ranking TRP-recommended proposals that are submitted for this pool of money will be based on a mix of TRP Category and HIV prevalence within the most-at-risk population in question. The country's poverty level will not be a factor for prioritisation. In addition to this pool of money being provided, MARP prevalence rates are now also a factor in determining prioritisation criteria for "conventional" HIV proposals, as explained in Article 3.)

The Board made no decision as to whether any of these new features will apply subsequent to Round 10.

Most of the information for this article comes from Decision Points 17, 18 and 19 in the Board decision points document, accessible at www.theglobalfund.org/en/board/meetings/twentyfirst.

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