On Wednesday 2 June, RESULTS UK attended a meeting with Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. It proved to be an exciting opportunity to find out how the Global Fund intends to engage the new UK government in discussions leading up to the Global Fund Replenishment due to be held in October and how civil society can play a role in this.
With a number of key NGOs also present including Oxfam, Merlin UK, Save the Children, World Vision and the AIDS Consortium, RESULTS UK led the way in asking Christoph what key asks the Global Fund would make of the new government now in place.
The release of the One World Conservatism paper has made it clear that the new government will focus on aid that delivers on results-based investments and transparency. Historically, the UK has favoured bilateral aid as opposed to multilateral (through institutions like the World Bank and the Global Fund). Christoph Benn is keen to show the new UK government that the Global Fund is an excellent mechanism for the UK to invest funding for health, by illustrating that it is a multilateral model with a difference. The Global Fund IS results focused; IS evidence based; IS transparent. This is a key message that civil society and NGOs in the UK can also help send firmly in our own discussions and engagement with government.
In the run up to the Global Fund replenishment meeting, the Global Fund is presenting three scenarios of funding ($13 Billion; $17 Billion; $20 Billion). To highlight what can be achieved:
- $13 billion – would maintain current programs but would not be sufficient to scale–up
- $17 billion – would enable vital scale-up of existing programmes
- $20 billion – would help achieve MDG 6 on combating HIV, AIDS, malaria and other diseases including tuberculosis targets (although it would be insufficient to deal with other challenges such as drug-resistant TB and reaching universal access to antiretroviral drugs for HIV based on new WHO treatment guidelines)
Many UK NGOs including RESULTS UK believe that the $20 billion scenario is the only one that should be considered and even this option is still too low to meet the total funding need for the three diseases. However, worryingly in previous discussions with RESULTS UK, DFID has expressed that they feel the $13 billion scenario seems more realistic.
In 2010, the UK government is pushing for greater investment in maternal and child health. The Global Fund has recently released data demonstrating its vital contribution in this area – for details see the recent ‘Innovation and Impact’ report. However, a concern is that the Global Fund may be stretching itself too thin: promising improved deliverables of maternal and child health in order to secure more funds, could come at the cost of ensuring enough money is available to continue to fund its current mandate on the three key diseases.
With a major push going out to all the major donors to the Global Fund to increase commitments for the next replenishment, the Global Fund is aiming to obtain a doubling in commitment from the UK government. One that might be achieved through the combined efforts of civil society working together in the UK.
In May, the RESULTS grassroots action focused on the Global Fund, the G8 and maternal and child health, and included the ask that the UK government scale up its support of the Global Fund. Following on from this, RESULTS UK’s July action will focus more intensively on how we can ensure strong UK support for the Global Fund replenishment this October.