Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Global Fund is back in business

31
MAY
2012

Aids Alliance

Many celebrated after the Global Fund announced it will have US$1.8 billion to fund new programmes until the end of 2013 and it would freeze its '55% rule’, which limits funding for middle income countries. But questions remain as to what will happen in September once the freeze is over, and how countries will fare with proposed changes to the way new funds are allocated.

Board decisions welcomed

At its meeting in Geneva last month (May 11), the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria announced that uncommitted resources, contingency funds and new contributions means it will have an estimated US$1.8 billion to spend on new programmes until the end of 2013. This is exciting news and a major shift from just a couple of months ago when it was uncertain whether there were sufficient funds to cover the Transitional Funding Mechanism.

The Board said the money will be used to launch a new funding opportunity and implement the Global Fund’s new strategy. This means new funding opportunities will be made available from late September onwards with grants awarded from April next year.

A further decision was taken by the Board to freeze the automatic cutting by 25% of grants to middle income countries at the time of phase two renewals to comply with the 55% rule, which states that a minimum of 55% of the Global Fund’s grant commitments in any given year should be allocated to low-income countries. Mechanisms already put in place by the Global Fund such as an assessment of a country’s counterpart financing will instead be used to determine the eligibility of middle income countries for grants.

With 70% of poor people (and most people living with HIV and AIDS) located in middle income countries many in the global HIV response including the Alliance rightly celebrated. 23 MICs have been spared from 25% cuts, and space has been created to design a better model through which to allocate the Global Fund’s resources.

Anton Kerr, Head of Policy at the Alliance, said: “In all my years working on these issues I have not seen such a clear demonstration of the power of well targeted advocacy. Had a few civil society organisations not taken this issue on the 55% rule would not have even been on the Board’s agenda, let alone suspended.”

The battle is won but the war is not over

But while grants for middle income countries have been saved from further cuts for the time being it remains unclear what will happen when the freeze ends in September.

Questions also remain about how communities most at risk of HIV will fare under a new funding structure being developed as part the Global Fund’s new strategy. The strategy proposes a shift from the traditional rounds-based system to one that will allow countries to submit grant requests at numerous points throughout the year and allows for ongoing improvement of proposals. However, it is currently unclear how the system will allocate funding and encourage a full expression of demand at country level.

Ensuring communities get the support they need

Pressure is still needed to ensure any global allocation tied to country income level is based on evidence, and that any shift to a system that allocates funds throughout the year does not simply prioritise grants on a first come, first served basis or from an office in Geneva.

Kerr added: “In the coming months it will be critical for the Alliance to impress the need for the Global Fund to remain true to its principles of country ownership and partnership and to ensure that countries are able to request funds based on their own assessment of needs and gaps.

“Civil society and key stakeholders including key populations must remain at the centre of funding decision-making processes to ensure the gains of recent months are not lost, and the Global Fund stays the most responsive and effective global funding mechanism for the three diseases.”

For more information read the Global Fund Strategy 2012-2016: Investing in Impact

Click on these links to read the Alliance’s recent report on HIV, Drug Use and the Global Fund: Don’t Stop Now and our earlier report on the impact of Round 11: Don’t Stop Now: how underfunding the Global Fund is impacting on the HIV response.

Read this briefing by prepared by the Global Fund Northern NGO Delegation on the '55% rule'.