WHO/Europe is helping Member States to be more successful at securing support from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by staging mock reviews of their funding applications. The process has led to 9 countries and territories obtaining approval in principle for just under US$ 3 million of funding to prevent and treat these diseases.
The 9 countries and territories are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo*, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. With the exception of Kosovo*, all are on the list of 18 high-priority countries for TB control in the WHO European Region, which together bear 85% of the TB burden and 99% of the multi-drug resistant TB burden.
The Global Fund is a driving force behind major grants to fight TB, HIV/AIDS and malaria, and to strengthen health systems. It raises and invests more than US$ 4 billion per year.
In the mock review process, countries present their proposals to a panel of experts and WHO technical staff. The development of the applications is led by a country coordination mechanism with key national stakeholders and development partners.
Like other country partners, Dr Yana Terleeva, Head of the TB Diagnosis and Treatment Coordination Department of the Public Health Centre of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, found the process extremely helpful. The stakes are high, with the Global Fund investing substantial sums to accelerate Ukraine’s efforts to implement an integrated, patient-centred model of TB and HIV care.
“The mock technical peer review provided us with an opportunity to work closely with technical experts to make the funding proposal technically sound and evidence-based,” she explains. “It also helped us refine the proposal to be sure it meets donor expectations, taking into consideration country needs and contexts. Another added benefit of the exercise is that it also contributes to national capacity-building and development.”
The technical peer review (TPR) sets high standards for countries, and Dr Terleeva acknowledges its influence on TB strategy. “The TPR has high expectations from countries in terms of prioritization of cost-effective and efficient interventions in funding proposals, provision of rationale for selected areas, and expected outcomes,” she continues.
“The TPR also strongly encourages countries to implement effective, innovative approaches in line with the latest WHO recommendations adapted to the country’s epidemiological context. Thus, the mock review assists countries to meet those expectations and to focus on the right strategic direction for their next steps in the TB response.”
According to the Global Fund’s Ms Sandra Irbe, Senior Fund Portfolio Manager for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the mock review process has improved efficiency and taken some of the stress out of the application process.
“Having WHO experts reviewing before submission is valuable for preventing strategic mishaps,” she explains. “The experts can help guide people towards what they need to do to be successful. If the proposal is not in good shape when it reaches the Global Fund, the technical panel has to send back the application and ask them to review – it makes the process very heavy and stressful. Thanks to the mock review process, by the time the application reaches the Global Fund it is technically sound. This avoids wasting everyone’s time. It’s a critical step, especially since everything runs to tight deadlines.”
*All references to Kosovo in this article should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).