European Commission commits to fully funded Global Fund

April 7, 2013

As the Global Fund to Fight to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria launches its fourth replenishment bid for US$ 15 billion, Arben Fetai, Senior EU Policy Advisor at Stop AIDS Alliance, a joint initiative by STOP AIDS NOW! and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance writes about the events in Brussels this week which highlighted the critical need to defeat the three diseases.

In the margins of the first meeting of the Global Fund’s 4th Voluntary Replenishment Process (2014-2016) hosted by the European Commission on 9-10 April in Brussels, Stop AIDS Alliance lead civil society efforts to mobilise the European Union institutions for a successful replenishment outcome.

This first replenishment meeting of the year was an opportunity for donors to be informed about the results that Global Fund implementing countries have achieved in fighting the three diseases, and progress made in areas such as the restructuring of the Secretariat and the implementation of the New Funding Model. There will be at least one more Replenishment meeting in 2013 in the Autumn, at which donors will pledge their contribution for 2014-2016.

A number of activities took place in Brussels, including a high level panel discussion at the European Parliament and civil society mobilisation just in front of the Parliament to call on donors to fully fund the Global Fund and contribute to ending the epidemics

High Level Panel
The panel (How the Global Fund Can Make A Difference) brought together Mark Dybul, Executive Director of Global Fund; Dr Victor Makwenge Kaput, Board Chair of Roll Back Malaria; Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director General of the Development and Cooperation at the European Commission; Charles Goerens MEP; Lucy Chesire, Board Member and Communities Delegation to the Global Fund; Oxana Rucsineanu, Here I Am Campaign Ambassador from Moldova.

Overall, the panel highlighted that for the first time in human history, we can see the beginning of the end of AIDS, TB and malaria provided that funding is directed at the right programmes, for the right populations and at the right scale. A fully funded Global Fund, able to implement the targets of its new strategy for 2012-2016 and fully roll out its new funding model will move us towards ending the diseases. Mark Dybul noted that pessimists might say that ending the epidemics is too aggressive and optimistic but that many things such as scaling up anti-retrovirals were thought to be impossible only a decade ago. Dybul said: “Pessimists will find a thousand ways to say you can't do something.  Focus on what you can do, this is a historical opportunity.”

Dr Victor Makwenge noted that African countries, thanks to important economic growth, have significantly increased their domestic investment in the response to the three diseases. However, he noted that many African countries are still faced with a lack of certainty and security issues. Dr Makwenge said: “That is why we need the Global Fund. We need to continue to invest and move forward. The key is for the Fund to be sustainable and able to continue addressing the three diseases.”

Charles Goerens MEP said the Global Fund is a success story in international development and will remain a priority for the EU. He said: “That what was thought as impossible before but has been done. The European Commission and the EU Member States need to focus on making the Global Fund sustainable and remain the largest donor to the fund.” Klaus Rudischhauser stated that the European Commission, with its strong focus on country ownership and alignment to country priorities, normally does not support vertical funds.

However, the Global Fund is the exception, because it is so focussed on results and helps the EU deliver on its human rights agenda by ensuring marginalised populations get access to health services. He stated the European Commission will continue to support the Global Fund in line with its previous commitments.

Speaking on the rolling out of the New Funding Model, Mark Dybul highlighted it will be very important to have a strong involvement of civil society and communities in the country dialogues on Global Fund grants. Lucy Chesire insisted on the importance of ensuring an inclusive process at the country level to ensure the voices of civil society and grassroots organisations are heard at the negotiating table.

Oxana Rucsineanu noted the Global Fund remains the only support to marginalised populations affected by AIDS and tuberculosis en Eastern Europe and Central Asia and that the Fund should continue investing in those countries until governments take their responsibilities. In that regard, Klaus Rudischhauser noted that the Global Fund and the international community cannot continue investing forever in middle-income countries and that resources should be targeted where they are the most needed. However, he said that it is essential that the Global Fund focusses in those countries in supporting civil society to build its capacities in influencing governments to prioritise the right interventions, including in the bilateral support that those countries receive from the European Union. 

Civil society rally
Immediately following the event at the European Parliament, around 80 civil society activists gathered on the main square facing the Parliament to call on to call on the European Union Member States, the European Commission and the European Parliament to continue to invest in the fight against the three diseases and play their part to fully fund the Global Fund.

Under the rhythms of African drums, activists distributed flyers and t-shirts to passersby to raise awareness on the Global Fund and its remarkable results in the past decade while informing them on the remaining gaps, including the financing one. 

The European Commission is a founding member of the Global Fund, has a seat on the Global Fund Board and has been providing strong political and financial support to the fund since 2002. EU Member States and the European Commission have provided more than $11 billion between 2001 and 2011 to the Global Fund, or 52% of its resources. So far, the European Commission's contribution to the Global Fund exceeded one billion Euros.

Download the full press release here.

Read the Global Fund press release here.