Everyone involved with the fund is eager for it to have a renewed focus on doing what it does best – funding the fight against the three diseases and saving lives.
The International Development Select Committee special hearing on the Global Fund held in the UK Parliament on 17 April was convened to assess the current Global Fund reforms, the funding crisis and its impact and DFID’s role in it all.
It seemed like a great opportunity for some really positive messages related to recent changes at the Global Fund and also for the UK to announce when it would make its increased funding commitment. The Alliance, along with representatives from civil society, was present to give evidence at the inquiry. In the end the results were mixed.
Global Fund General Manager, Gabriel Jaramillo, outlined the restructuring and key reforms that he has begun putting in place that answer many challenges and criticism the Global Fund has faced.
The Alliance welcomed the new focus on:
- Better management of risk and grants
- Improved disbursement
- Country-level co-ordination
- More strategic and high impact interventions for those most in need
At the same time we called on the Global Fund to ensure it stays true to its founding principles of country ownership, being demand driven and ensuring civil society participation. How this will be ensured will certainly be on the agenda of the Global Fund Board Meeting on 10-11 May 2012.
Another welcome step forward came when Minister for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, provided a ringing endorsement of Jaramillo’s leadership and renewed the UK commitment to support reform and bolster renewed confidence in the Fund. In addition to recent statements by Cameron, Obama and G8 Foreign Ministers, these endorsements of the Global Fund and the recent changes will go a long way to ensure donors step up to provide funds.
However, the inquiry also saw two key opportunities missed.
Despite compelling evidence from leading agencies, Andrew Mitchell stated he does not agree about the level of impact the cancellation of round 11 and broader funding cuts to grants will have. He argued, without citing evidence, that there would not be any significant impact on access and scale-up of services, or on achieving High Level Meeting targets on HIV or Millennium Development Goal 6.
We hope that DFID will reassess this over-optimistic analysis because it is only by recognising the gaps that we can then move swiftly to ensure they will be filled.
The biggest disappointment was Andrew Mitchell’s announcement of the likely delay of DFID’s increased funding commitment until as late as 2013. News of a significant increase of DFID’s commitment was very welcome when it was announced a year and a half ago and the continued delays are frustrating.
Many had hoped that DFID’s increased funding commitment would come at the G20 in June. Now DFID say they will likely make the announcement once all the Global Fund reforms are in place and the UK has conducted a further review of their original Multilateral AID Review. In addition, the increase they announce will only count for the years 2013 and onwards, meaning that the increase for 2011 and 2012 will not be forthcoming.
If the Global Fund is able to open its doors once again for new grant proposals in the coming months, an increased UK commitment now would mean that the Global Fund would have much more money to distribute. We hope that they will find a good opportunity to make the announcement well before 2013 and use it to leverage contributions from other donors.
The UK government has been a great supporter of the Global Fund, and rightly so. Now, as the Global Fund gets back to doing what it does best, we hope the UK government will continue its support of the reform process through its Chairmanship of the Global Fund Board. However, we also urge the UK to make its increased funding commitment sooner rather than later so that the Fund can play its full role in delivering universal access to services and saving more lives.
Read more in our report Don’t stop now: How underfunding the Global Fund impacts on the HIV response