The Global Fund’s Fifth Replenishment Campaign received an important boost from its largest donor, the United States, with the announcement of a pledge of up to $4.3 billion for the 2017-2019 period. This compares to the $4.1 billion that the U.S. contributed for the last replenishment period.
Susan E. Rice, the U.S. National Security Adviser, made the announcement on 31 August, three weeks out from the Replenishment Conference in Montreal on 16-17 September. The early announcement is a calculated move to generate momentum towards the $13 billion replenishment target: As was the case in the last replenishment, the U.S. is committing to match one dollar for every two dollars in pledges made by other donors.
(If the U.S. ends up contributing $4.3 billion, that would mean that other donors would have pledged at least $8.6 billion, putting the Fund within a hair’s breadth of its $13 billion target.)
Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul praised the U.S. leadership: “It is thanks to partners like the U.S. that the Global Fund partnership is creating a movement that is transforming countless lives and creating more fair societies.”
Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria’s incoming President, Chris Collins, was hopeful that the U.S. pledge would generate the necessary momentum to reach the target and “…bolster new commitments from other government and private sector leaders.”
The Health Global Access Project (Health GAP) has provided the only critical voice to the U.S. pledge that Aidspan has seen. Hilary McQuie, Health GAP’s Director of U.S. Government Policy and Grassroots Mobilization, told the Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) that the pledge “falls significantly short of what is needed from the United States to close the widening funding gap for the global AIDS response and capitulates to an irresponsibly low replenishment goal of $13 billion set by the Global Fund.” (Email on file with the author.)
The U.S. pledge is still subject to Congressional appropriations. Earlier this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended funding of $1.35 billion for the Global Fund for the 2017 fiscal year.
The U.S. announcement brings the total pledges to-date to $7.7 billion, 62.6% of the replenishment target.
Kenya sets the bar in Africa
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a $5 million pledge to the Global Fund at a side event at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Nairobi on 26 August. (Kenya also announced a $54 million domestic financial contribution to developing its own health system as part of efforts to accelerate the country’s progress towards universal health coverage.)
The $5 million, which is more than double what Kenya pledged for the last replenishment, was made “in the spirit of solidarity and shared responsibility,” stated President Kenyatta. Additionally, Kenyatta said that the funds pledged to the Global Fund will be invested in “prevention and treatment of diseases and in building health systems, [which] will save lives and create more inclusive and thriving communities.”
Pledges from implementing countries are generally seen as being symbolic – i.e. an expression of confidence in the importance of the Global Fund. For the last replenishment, about a half dozen implementing countries made pledges, so it is likely that we will see additional pledges from implementing countries at the Replenishment Conference in Montreal.
Sweden reinstates 2016 contribution
Swedish advocates are rejoicing at the news that the Swedish Government has restored its 2016 commitment to the Global Fund to SEK 850 million ($99 million). In March 2016, GFO reported that the Swedish Government was planning to cut its 2016 contribution by SEK 300 million stating that the “unfortunate, but necessary cuts” were due to increasing refugee costs. GFAN was instrumental in mobilizing 159 organisations to sign a letter to the Swedish Government calling on Sweden to “stand by its global health commitments and to not make cuts in its contribution to the Global Fund at this crucial moment.”
Whilst the news is good for the Global Fund, some advocates were concerned that it could again bring to the fore excuses for European governments to reduce funding to the Fund due to the refugee crisis, ultimately pitting one vulnerable group of people against other vulnerable groups.
Sweden has not yet announced a pledge for the Global Fund’s Fifth Replenishment, but this recent decision to reinstate its 2016 commitment in full is promising.
Global Fund new results report: a timely release for replenishment efforts
The Global Fund has released a series of announcements and publications related to results. On 13 July, it issued a fact sheet (see GFO article). On 1 September, the Fund published its Results Report 2016 (see GFO article elsewhere in this issue). Both documents report results to 31 December 2015 (there is a lag in reporting of about six months).
The Fund also produced a video, 20.Million.Lives., which celebrates the success of programs to which the Fund contributes in saving 20 million lives since its inception in 2002. This is three million more lives saved than reported for the period ending on 31 December 2015. The Fund says that the programs it supports are on track to reach 22 million lives saved by the end of 2016. The video is available on the Global Fund’s website under its “voices” news and stories section, and on you tube.
The video and an Impact and Results Summary, a two-page document produced by the Fund, outline the Global Fund’s success in simple and easily digested formats that can be used by advocates to argue to case for continued investment ahead of the Fifth Replenishment Conference. The summary document also clearly emphasizes the Global Fund’s improved efficiency, stating that in 2016 the Fund has been able to save “more than USD 600 million through a more effective pooled procurement mechanism, by working with partners and negotiating directly with manufacturers.”
Advocacy efforts intensify
The Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) has been stepping up its advocacy work and mobilizing its network in the lead-up to the Fifth Replenishment Conference. GFAN has released a Global Fund Advocates Communication Toolkit which shares key messages related to cost of inaction; a number of graphics for social media sharing; and a full list of Global Fund resources, and resources from partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the ONE campaign. (For more information, contact Katy Kydd Wright at email@example.com.)
Coalition PLUS has launched a campaign with its French member AIDES calling on the French President to announce an increased contribution to the Global Fund. This campaign was undertaken shortly after President François Hollande announced an increase in overseas development aid for 2017.
In Germany, Friends of the Global Fund Europe held a conference on 6 September in Berlin with a series of renowned speakers. The conference, 15 Years of Achievement. 15 Years ahead, was part of a comprehensive week-long event by German civil society called Action for a fully funded Global Fund.
In Zimbabwe, the UNAIDS country office and local Canadian Embassy are organizing a dialogue on the importance of the Global Fund in Zimbabwe on 12 September.
There is just over one week left before the Fifth Replenishment Conference on 16-17 September in Montreal, Canada.