Last week we reported the disturbing news that the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria were considering imposing a ‘cap’ to limit the size and ambition of new funding applications that could be submitted by countries in 2010. We’re really pleased, and relieved, to be able to tell you that the Board have voted not to impose this kind of cap. However, a cap of sorts has been imposed on how much money can be committed by the Fund for all Round 10 grants together, in that the total amount that can be committed has been limited to the amount that donors give in the replenishment this autumn.
Round 10 will be launched on May 20th, with a closing date of August 20th, giving countries 3 months instead of the usual 4 to complete the application process. Although the decision was made not to impose caps on individual grants, the number of grants that will receive funding this year could still be limited if donors do not contribute sufficient resources for use by the end of 2011.
Another decision made by the Global Fund Board at its last meeting was to introduce a new prioritisation criteria , which could have an effect particularly if insufficient funds are available. Middle income countries – some of which, despite their better economic situation than low income countries, have very high burdens of the three killer diseases, particularly TB and HIV – could be disadvantaged by this criteria, ending up at the end of the queue. In an effort to prevent this from having a negative impact on the poorest people in middle income countries the Board have created a new $75m funding envelope specifically for the most vulnerable and marginalised HIV/AIDS communities.
The decision not to impose caps on individual grants is a positive step, and pressure from NGOs around the world undoubtedly sent a very strong message to the Board that caps went against the core principles of the Fund. However, in light of the decisions made at the meeting, there is still much to be done to advocate to the new government to ensure that the UK play a central role in a successful replenishment this year. We will be continuing our work on this throughout the year. Our current grassroots action, in which we are asking our activists to speak to their MPs about maternal and child health and the need to support the Global Fund, is particularly crucial in light of this news.