Two weeks ago we reported that the first responses to our July action on the Global Fund had been received. More responses are coming in all the time, and last week Sophie Gale, a new RESULTS activist who is working with us to establish a new group in Cardiff, received her first response from her MP to a RESULTS action on this topic.
Stephen O’Brien, the Minister of State for International Development, told Sophie’s MP that the UK is committed to meeting the MDGs, and that as they are one of the biggest donors to the Global Fund they are concentrating on encouraging other donors to honour their pledges and for new donors to join the partnership. He also raised some concerns the UK government has about the Global Fund, citing the need for the Fund to ‘get better at working with partner countries and achieving better value for money’, and that it must be ‘efficient’ as well as effective.
These are arguments that RESULTS staff and others have heard directly from civil servants as well. Our response is that although we are in agreement that further reforms are always necessary to make the Fund have an even greater impact, many reforms are already under way and some significant improvements have already been made. The Fund has an impressive record of responding to concerns and being open to continuous reform.
The Global Fund’s ‘Country Coordinating Mechanisms’ (CCMs), through which it works with governments, civil society organisations, academia and other bodies at country level is a unique and crucial element of the Fund’s successful structure. Although it can sometimes be unwieldy and its performance varies from country to country, it is a crucial part of ensuring that Global Fund programmes are coordinated with country activities and local oversight is provided. To argue that it should be more ‘efficient’ could be counterproductive as the fact that CCMs provide a broad involvement with many different actors is one of the unique strengths of the Fund. For more information about the structure and functioning of the Global Fund you can listen to the recording of our June focus call.
Concerns that Global Fund monies are poorly coordinated with other health investments and ‘off budget’ have meant that since 2007 the Global Fund has been a key player in the International Health Partnership, has introduced a new proposal development mechanism that will enable Global Fund resources to be included in national budgets (‘on budget’) and is currently playing an instrumental role in exploring new aid coordination and harmonisation structures.
A recent feature on the Global Fund’s website features three African Health Ministers talking about the strengths and weaknesses of the Global Fund. When asked how the Global Fund’s performance compares to other partners, Agnes Binagwaho, Permanent Secretary of Health in Rwanda specifically praises the Global Fund for being good at working with country systems. In fact, the Global Fund is commonly viewed as being more efficient and better at working with developing countries than any other multilateral organisation working in health. Although improvements should always be targeted, we believe that the UK government should be rewarding the Global Fund’s good performance with further funding, while continuing to encourage and incentivise further reforms.
If you have received a similar letter from the Department for International Development in response to your July action, you should feel free to respond to the letter pointing out these arguments. If you would like support please contact the RESULTS office.