Global Fund News Flash: Issue 18
New Funding Model Moving Forward
The first concept notes to be submitted under the new funding model of the Global Fund were reviewed – and applauded – by a new Grant Approval Committee in Geneva early this month. The five concept notes included: Myanmar’s HIV grant, tuberculosis grant and malaria grant; El Salvador’s HIV grant; and Zimbabwe’s HIV grant. All five got a thumbs-up from the committee. That means all five can move into the process of grant-making, and will be recommended for approval by the Board of the Global Fund, which next meets in June. Each concept note has already been carefully evaluated by a Technical Review Panel, where independent experts deemed them all to be technically sound – representing a 100 percent success rate. In contrast to the previous way of doing things, the new funding model encouraged frequent consultation between Country Coordinating Mechanisms, Global Fund staff and in-country partners while the concept notes were being developed, to answer questions and solve problems and talk through what made most sense. There was additional outreach to key affected populations. And the Technical Review Panel also provided early input to Country Coordinating Mechanisms around their intended approach that helped focus the applications further. It has been a work-intensive process. Yet feedback from those who took part has been overwhelmingly positive.
The new funding model, launched in February this year, is in a transition period over the course of 2013. The aim of the new funding model is to reach more people with HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria, by making grants more effective. Myanmar, El Salvador and Zimbabwe are among the six countries and regions invited to take part as “early applicants,” who go through all steps from submission of a concept note to creation of a new grant. Each country outlined its priority programs that need funding, as well as additional programs that deserve consideration as extra funding becomes available. An additional 47 countries are applying as interim applicants to access funding this year, through renewals, grant extensions and redesigned programs that can rapidly make use of funds. During the process, Global Fund staff and partners are learning, and are already incorporating early lessons into the design of materials that will be used by applicants going forward.
Sharing is Caring
“The man who says that a task is impossible should get out of the way of the man who is doing it,” is a Chinese proverb used by Kenyan hosts to kick-off a recent two-day consultation with partners from the Ministries of Health and Finance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. They met to discuss best practices and share experiences and lessons learned when administering Global Fund grants. Doing the background work for preventing and treating infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis and malaria is difficult and complex. There is always more to learn. In discussions, members of the Kenya team showcased oversight and coordination of the implementation of grants, and how to achieve effective governance. Others talked about issues that have come up in management of Global Fund grants: the complex relationship among principal recipients, country coordinating mechanisms and local fund agents; the handling of sub-recipients; and coordination with in-country partners. They also looked at treasury management, program and budget variances, reporting, audits, compliance and risk management, procurement of health products and supply-chain management. Some participants highlighted how use of different reporting systems got them to reexamine their national health systems. Others pointed to political support from the top, more experienced staff and better communications as ways to improve program implementation. They also discussed long-term challenges, such as the need for more coordination and information sharing among the different ministries within each country, and the need for better quality of country data. Sharing best practices and talking about what is effective, several participants agreed, makes challenging work seem a little less impossible.
From the Frontlines: Swaziland
Getting out to the frontlines, where the realities of the diseases the Global Fund fights are lived, can be re-energizing for staff at this organization. Boniface Njenga, a procurement officer with the Global Fund’s Southern and Eastern Africa team, was captivated by what he saw on a recent visit to Swaziland, where he took time away from his hectic schedule meeting with partners and familiarizing himself with the country’s supply-chain systems to get out into the heart of the country. In the small town of Dvokolwako, one and a half hours northeast of the capital, Mbabane, he spent time at Malayinini Neighborhood Care Point, a World Food Program center, which feeds orphaned and vulnerable children under five years old. Njenga was captivated by what he saw: the passion of cooks, who take home a modest food ration in place of a salary, the enthusiasm of the teacher who cares for 21 children with games and songs five days a week. He saw the tremendous effect the small investment in two meals a day is having in the community. “You expect that OVCs would be sad,” he said, referring to orphaned and vulnerable children. Instead, he saw kids bubbling with excitement and health. “If these children, all affected and some infected with HIV, are not well fed, they will most likely be vulnerable to some of the challenges that affected their parents.” After the feeding center, Njenga visited a food-by-prescription program, where mothers can access ante-natal care, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and TB services, and get food to keep them healthy enough to keep up with the treatment regime and to bear a healthy baby. He saw a pregnant, mentally-handicapped woman living with HIV, there to collect her bi-monthly food ration. On her back was another baby. While the Global Fund is not supporting this particular project, Njenga sees it as a future opportunity to make a difference. “I am very proud of what we are doing with those kids,” he said. “I am also excited about the possibilities of the new projects we can take on.” Njenga got fresh perspective from seeing, touching and feeling the human effects of programs on the ground. “It is a way to put a human face on the numbers,” he said.