Indian Civil Society Building Bridges with Global Fund’s Peter Sands

NEW DELHI (March 2018) – “Among the results of all the three diseases I checked at the Global Fund, TB has achieved the least. One reason for this could be because the poorest of the poor are affected by it,” aptly put by Peter Sands, at a meeting with a group of civil society and community members in India.

Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund, visited India to attend the ‘End TB Summit’ organised by the Government and People of India with blessings from the highest political level, the Prime Minister of India himself. Realising the opportunity of his visit, the Developing Countries NGO Delegation proposed a meeting with Sands.

The engagement was coordinated and led, in country, by Sonal Mehta, Chief Executive of India HIV/AIDS Alliance and a member of DCNGO Delegation. The meeting was convened with over a dozen TB survivors, people living with or affected by HIV and TB, representatives of civil society PRs and representatives from groups of various key populations. Urban Weber, Head of High Impact Countries Asia accompanied Sands and supported him to respond to some more operational issues.

The dialogue was engaging and responsive. Indian civil society has been very actively engaged with the Global Fund and therefore they were able to raise interesting and relevant issues with Sands. Three main questions raised to were around transition, CCM effectiveness and community system strengthening. Sands was requested to consider broader realities such as economic disparity, burden of disease as well as incidence of disease before transition plan is made for country.

India becomes peculiar since India’s achievement can impact the global targets. Commodification of the Global Fund grants and need for ensuring focus on prevention and capacity building of civil society was emphasised. Indian civil society has a potential to be vibrant, particularly on CCMs and therefore it is very critical for the GF to invest in meaningful engagement of civil society, including providing resources for consultations and exposure visits. An appeal was made to Sands, particularly as India initiated nine year transition plan this 2018, to invest more in civil society and community system strengthening. Members of civil society showed readiness in engaging with the GF for innovative financing, meeting with private sector and lobby with government.

Sands responded as a sensitive well-informed friend. He shared the dilemma that the GF has to face during resource allocation – the trade-offs for getting more resources – but also acknowledged the challenges of diversity, disparity and volume of problems faced by the Indian government and civil society. He recommitted to the idea of engaging civil society for capacity building and community empowerment. He appealed HIV community to work with TB community to ensure exchange of learning and optimisation of resources.

Though the future for India’s funding and transition from the Global Fund is unclear, the dialogue has created an atmosphere that increased civil society’s faith in the GF, and it was seen as a welcomed opportunity since for a long time there was no dialogue of the civil society and communities with the GF team.

By: Sonal Mehta

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