The Developing Country NGO constituency participated actively in the first ever virtual Board Meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, held on 14 and 15 May 2020. We urged that while we are operating in a very fast-changing environment due to COVID-19, we must not forget our core business and principles, that are our strength, such as the meaningful inclusion of civil society and communities at all levels of decision-making and that we keep our focus on the AIDS, TB and malaria responses. Our statement covers our positions on the development of the new Strategy and COVID-19 and business continuity.
The Next Strategy:
The Global Fund will this year begin the process of developing the next Strategy for 2023 and beyond, through an online consultation process and Partnership Forums. The Developing Country NGO constituency strongly believes that we cannot begin work on the developing the next Strategy, until we have had an honest and frank review of the progress made in our current Strategy, including identifying gaps and challenges. There are a number of reviews by the Technical Review Panel (TRP), Technical Evaluation Reference Group (TERG), the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and our Strategic Performance reporting that could be synthesised for this kind of review in addition to the TERG and the SR2020 review due to be finalised in fall 2020.
Given that the Partnership Forums may not take place in-person, we requested that ways to consult with larger communities and civil society outside the online written feedback, be developed to ensure the meaningful and inclusive participation of communities and civil society. Given the limitations of virtual engagements, we also recommended that in-depth interviews with key stakeholders be conducted to gather more detailed qualitative responses, especially from communities and civil society. We also recommended focus group discussion with partners and stakeholders which we felt would be beneficial to attain detailed information from stakeholders who may not be able to participate meaningfully in virtual consultations.
The Strategy will need to be fit for purpose and will need to consider how the Global Fund responds to emerging pandemics. In terms of content, the Developing Country NGO constituency believes that the focus on the three diseases and four Strategic Objectives should remain, with an emphasis on innovative ways that we can address our shortcomings in the previous Strategy, strengthen our implementation of these strategies in the new contexts in which we find ourselves, while working towards achieving the Global Funds purpose and goals. Our Alternate Board Member was quoted during the course of the deliberations and in the final communication about the Board meeting as she urged attention to “engaging our strengths in the delivery of our purpose.”
Response to COVID-19:
While acknowledging the significant and rapid response to COVID-19 with the allocation of US$1 billion by the Global Fund, the Developing Country NGO constituency is incredibly concerned that communities and civil society, including the civil society Principal Recipients are on many occasions being excluded from the decision-making processes around COVID-19 in-country, including accessing funds through the 5% flexibilities and the COVID- 19 Response Mechanism (C19RM). The principle of meaningful engagement and inclusion of civil society and communities is often not being upheld by the government-dominated Country Coordinating Mechanisms in the context of lockdowns.
We are also very concerned about the lack of health services for key populations and the human rights violations they face. We have seen a number of disruptions in services such as harm reduction services and human rights violations, under the auspices of COVID-19 regulations. Concerns have also been raised by civil society and community groups such as Harm Reduction International and the International Network of People who Use Drugs that funds may be directed away from harm reduction services or that additional funds for harm reduction may not be requested when the need is great.
The Developing Country NGO signed on to a statement by the entire Implementer Group of the Board, which constitutes seven government constituencies, two civil society and the communities delegation, which urges the Board to consider the below principles and actions in its discussions around responding to the challenges posed by COVID-19:
- Leveraging the power of multi-stakeholder engagement and partnerships at national and global levels
- Ensuring that Global Fund COVID-19 mitigation and response strategies protect the populations most affected and at greatest risk of HIV, TB and malaria
- Enhancing guidance, monitoring and risk management
- Championing Quality, Accountability and Oversight
The Developing Country NGO constituency again raised the need for Russian civil society and communities to be allowed to apply for C19RM funding under the eligibility allowed by the NGO rule, as Russia is the country with the second highest number of cases globally, with no support for HIV and TB civil society and communities in addressing challenges of COVID-19.
We reiterated the need for accountability and transparency for the additional funds provided for COVID-19 under the grant flexibilities and C19RM support provided by the Global Fund are spent. We recommended that funds be made available to support community-led monitoring in-country to support accountability efforts.
Find the Developing Country NGO Delegation statement submitted ahead of the 43rd Board Meeting from the Global Fund here.
NOTE TO CIVIL SOCIETY and COMMUNITIES:
We request that civil society and community partners share information with the Delegation directly, where there are instances where civil society and communities are not part of the in-country decision-making processes, or where key population services are not included in the COVID-19 Response Mechanism funding request or implementation activities.
We also bring to the attention of our constituency the guidance provided to countries on Community, Rights and Gender during COVID-19, a useful tool for holding your governments and CCMs to account: https://www.theglobalfund.org/media/9648/covid19_communityrightsgender_guidancenote_en.pdf?u=637250524690000000
The Developing Country NGO delegation to the Board of the Global Fund is a voting constituency that represents NGOs from the developing world, serving those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, TB, & Malaria. The delegation seeks to influence decisions and policies to ensure strategic, continuous and appropriate responsiveness to the needs of those affected by the three diseases and the NGOs providing services to them. For more information or to arrange a call or submit a letter, please contact Lesley Odendal, Constituency Focal Point, Developing Country NGO delegation, L.Odendal@developingngo.org