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Appointment of RESULTS US Director should bring hope to those who rely on Global Fund support

Last Friday, Joanne Carter, Executive Director of RESULTS in the USA was selected for the position of Board Member for the Developed Country NGO Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. Since it was first conceived eight years ago, Joanne and RESULTS has been fully engaged with the Global Fund, in particular playing an important role in resource mobilisation.

Thanks to the unprecedented support that the Global Fund has received from governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities in both donor and high burden countries, the Fund has been able to achieve impressive results. To date, two million people living with HIV have received life-saving, antiretroviral treatment; 4.6 million people stricken by tuberculosis, the leading cause of death among HIV sufferers, have been put on effective TB drugs; and 70 million insecticide-treated bed nets have been delivered to families at risk of contracting malaria.

The Global Fund has demonstrated itself to be an effective mechanism truly capable of saving lives. Furthermore, the Fund is also a unique model of transparency and inclusiveness that has been quick to adapt and improve throughout its short existence. As a result, year on year, demand for assistance from the Global Fund has increased. Countries have demonstrated not only their need but their capacity and commitment to rid their populations of these three major killers. The preliminary funding request for Round 9 is US$ 4.82 billion. This is expected to increase to at least the same level as Round 8 (more than US$ 6 billion) once the final Round 9 submissions and National Strategy Applications are considered.

That is the good news. The bad news is that donors are not meeting their end of the bargain. There are fears that the amount of funding requested through new rounds and the National Strategy Applications in 2009 and 2010 may be significantly more than the assets available to meet that demand. It is estimated that there will be a funding gap of US$ 4-9 billion unless donors come forward with new and increased pledges.

An urgent resource mobilisation effort is needed but it is not yet clear that any governments are taking the lead. The consequence will be that countries who have submitted technically sound funding proposals will be rejected. The consequence for individuals and families affected by AIDS, TB and malaria will of course be disastrous. Fearing for the worst, the Fund has tasked a special working group to look at how funding should be prioritised in a resource-constrained environment.

The UK is one of those donors being called upon to avert a funding crisis. The UK has supported the Global Fund since the beginning and last year made an unprecedented long term commitment of up to £1 billion between 2008 and 2015. It has also given £359 million between 2002 and 2007.

The UK has already given a lot to the Global Fund compared to many countries, so why should they give even more? RESULTS believes that even generous donors such as the UK, France, USA and Canada have the capacity, and responsibility, to give even more. Significant progress has been made in the fight against the three diseases but it is still the most marginalised and hard to reach people which are yet to benefit from programmes such as those supported by the Global Fund. This is not the time for any country to sit back and say that they have done enough.

With Joanne's appointment to the Global Fund Board, we are confident that the need for urgent resource mobilisation efforts will stay high on the agenda of both the Global Fund secretariat and the wider donor community. Joanne's personal track record of directing advocacy campaigns that have mobilised billions of dollars for health and development, plus the support of the RESULTS network and partners around the world, will ensure that those who rely on our support will not be let down.