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At the end of June 2017, the Technical Review Panel (TRP) assessed 54 funding requests submitted to the Global Fund in Window 2 (23 May 2017). Of these requests, 91% were approved for grant-making. The TRP acknowledged the quality of proposals, but noted that community systems strengthening and key populations interventions continue to be under-prioritized or poorly articulated.
Under new rules, if there are any unused funds in an existing grant at the end of the allocation utilization period for that grant, the funds cannot be added to the next allocation. Instead, the funds must be returned to the Global Fund’s general resource pool, to be used for portfolio optimization. This information is contained in guidelines released by the Global Fund on transitioning between allocation utilization periods.
Malawi is one of the top recipients of Global Fund grants. The country coordinating mechanism has submitted a joint funding request for HIV and TB amounting to just under half a billion dollars. This includes $384.8 million for the within-allocation portion and $115.0 million for the prioritized above-allocation portion. HIV programming makes up 88% of the request. Almost two-thirds of the HIV expenditures are for the purchase of antiretrovirals. At the same time, however, the request calls for significant increases in prevention initiatives targeting key populations.
The steering committee of the Regional Artemisinin-resistance Initiative in the Greater Mekong delta in Southeast Asia has submitted a funding request for a second phase of the program. Plans for Phase 2 reflect expert opinion that the only way to contain resistance to the P. falciparum strain of malaria is to eliminate malaria entirely in the region. The Technical Review Panel has completed its assessment of the funding request.
On 23 May 2017, Tanzania requested $703.4 million from the Global Fund for its HIV, TB and malaria programs as well as for building resilient and sustainable systems for health. Two new civil society principal recipients will implement a host of new and innovative interventions, including finding TB cases through “boda bodas” and “sputum fixers” and combining condoms with sanitary wear in dignity packs provided to out-of-school girls.
According to the Office of the Inspector General, the Secretariat has improved IT controls since the OIG’s last IT audit in 2015. However, significant improvements are required in two areas – designing a cloud computing strategy; and managing the risks associated with cloud computing.
In funding requests submitted to the Global Fund in window 1 and window 2, more than $100 million was proposed for adolescent girls and young women. In an eight-country analysis, the Global Fund has indicated that gender and gender-based violence was prioritized in seven out of eight countries, while no country has so far prioritized post-exposure prophylaxis or social protection. The Technical Review Panel has urged countries to use evidence-based approaches and plan for simple evaluations.
Mark Dybul, the Global Fund’s departing executive director, has some words of advice regarding the search for his successor. Rather than hire a technically minded public health expert, Dybul said, the Fund should be looking for someone who can structure deals, make pitches to policymakers and reach into the private sector where the majority of people in countries with big disease burdens — like India and Indonesia — access their healthcare.
The Global Fund has updated its August 2014 guidelines on budgeting for grants. The guidelines aim to ensure implementers understand the Global Fund’s financial policies and procedures, and implement them in a consistent manner; and to “strike a better balance” between flexibility on the one hand, and efficiency, transparency and accountability on the other.