Global Fund Board Approves First Grants under New Approach to Funding
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - The Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has approved grants for the first applicants to participate in a new funding model that is dramatically expanding support for countries fighting these infectious diseases.
The grants, totalling US$622 million, are ready to be implemented. They embody a new approach to funding, with greater predictability, improved interaction among partners and swifter implementation. The new funding model is designed to make more effective grants, with greater impact, so that more people can benefit from prevention, care and treatment of AIDS, TB and malaria.
A transition phase of the new funding model was launched in February this year, with the goal of taking a first group of countries through the process of submitting a concept note for a proposed grant, interacting with partners, checking technical merit, and finalizing grants that will effectively fight the three diseases. The Board approved grants for three early applicants: Myanmar, El Salvador and Zimbabwe.
"Countries have been able to act quickly to get this new funding model started, and that's great news," said Simon Bland, Chair of the Global Fund Board. "These first grants show how, by working with partners, we can reach more people facing these diseases and really move forward progress toward defeating them and removing them as threats to public health."
The Board of the Global Fund, at a two-day meeting held in Sri Lanka, also reviewed overall progress made in the new funding model, which will be fully implemented in 2014.
Several Board members commented on the significant improvements embedded in the new funding model, responding to changing circumstances in countries facing the most serious threats from AIDS, TB and malaria.
"The new funding model is dynamic and exciting," said Prof. C. O. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health in Nigeria, who participated in the Board meeting. "It is welcome in the sense that it is flexible and makes for sustainability of programs based on country leadership and priorities."
The new grants reflect smart and aggressive efforts to dramatically expand efforts to fight diseases. For instance, a grant for a HIV-prevention program in Myanmar will support a strong push in that country to meet an urgent need for anti-retroviral coverage. The grant will support Myanmar's goal of achieving universal access to anti-retroviral treatment by 2016, up from 43 percent in 2012.
Another grant, intended to build upon remarkable gains in fighting HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe, will increase the total number of adults and children on antiretroviral treatment from 565,000 currently to 893,000 by 2016.
A grant for El Salvador includes plans to expand prevention activities, and to incorporate a human rights approach by dramatically expanding HIV funding for those affected by and vulnerable to infection. By 2016, it aims to reach by over 90 percent coverage of services among sex workers, transgender people and men who have sex with men.
A recommendation from the Grant Approvals Committee encouraged UNAIDS and other partners to initiate a policy dialogue in Central America to better focus HIV investment in programs where they can have the most impact.
In addition to Myanmar, El Salvador and Zimbabwe, six additional applicants are currently working on concept notes and expect them to submit them for technical review in the coming months.
All of the early applicant grants included investments in improving data systems so that epidemiological data can better define reliable and appropriate size estimates for people at greatest risk of infection, as well as investment in better monitoring and evaluation on how to effectively reach those people and address their specific needs.
At the close of the Board meeting, Mr. Bland and Mphu Ramatlapeng each completed a two-year term as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board. They were succeeded by Dr. Nafsiah Mboi, Minister of Health of Indonesia, who became Chair of the Board, and Mireille Guigaz, France's former Ambassador for the fight against HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases, who became Vice-Chair.
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