The Country Dialogue in South Africa

In a prison near Cape Town, South Africa, outreach workers from the NGO TB/ HIV Care Association gather sputum samples for TB testing from newly arrived inmates. Tests are immediately run through state-of-the-art GeneXpert machines in the prison lab, and when a result is positive, the inmate starts TB treatment the following day. All inmates are also offered an HIV test upon arrival, and started on ARVs as appropriate. The close collaboration between the TB/ HIV Care Association and the prison health system is key to addressing the high rates of both diseases within the prison population.

On Thursday morning last week I had that wonderful feeling of having come full circle. Or I had arrived or, perhaps to some measure, was I reaping the benefits of my labour? I was at an NGO stakeholder meeting to give my input on identifying the needs of key populations. This, as part of the preparation of the concept note for South Africa’s new grant application to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

As a member of the Developing Country NGO Delegation to the Global Fund I was involved in the discussions when the concept of a NEW funding model to replace the Global Fund’s rounds-based system was first introduced. Change is never easy and this shift required a lot of change. It was like moving an elephant and took years to progress from proposal to implementation. We argued, we advocated for civil society, we wordsmithed and argued and advocated for civil society and wordsmithed some more. The New Funding Model was finally adopted by the Global Fund Board as THE funding model in Jakarta in 2014.

Thursday’s meeting was very special for me when I realised that it is all actually happening as it should, right here in my own country. Through my experience in the delegation I was able to give some guidance from the Global Fund perspective and to direct participants to the Global Fund website for additional information and reference documents.

My one concern was that screening for tuberculosis did not feature in any of the output indicators for sex workers and PWID. Being the TB advocate that I am, I raised this as an issue.

So to all the members of all the constituencies on the board of the Global Fund, the task teams and all the staff of the Global Fund who worked so hard to pull it all together, I salute you. This circle is complete and now for robust resource mobilisation.

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