Developing Country NGO constituency at the 45th Board Meeting: ensuring communities and civil society are at the centre of the Global Fund

Strategy Development goals and objectives for the Global Fund’s next Strategy were at the core of the 45th Global Fund Board Meeting, held virtually on 11 and 12 May 2021. The Developing Country NGO constituency (DCNGO) urged that the strategy recognize that communities and civil society are a fundamental and key stakeholder in all the work of the Global Fund at all levels, and that there must be meaningful inclusion of communities, including community system strengthening, at all levels of decision-making and implementation.  The DCNGO also reiterated the need for the Global Fund to institute  sustainable strategies to address human rights barriers and ensure gender equality and equity and urged the Secretariat strengthen  monitoring and evaluation of all work being done in these essential areas.

The Next Strategy

Many Board constituencies highlighted the importance of strengthening communities and strategically placing them at the center of the Global Fund’s work as the key enablers of strong health systems and for the promotion and protection of human rights, gender equality and equity in order to maximize impact against HIV, TB and malaria.  Communities and civil society are not only great mobilisers of increased resources as some seem to see us: we are the rock upon which the Global Fund was built and upon which all the strategies should rest.

The DCNGO was  heartened that the Board Meeting discussions found a consensus and mutual understanding that Pandemic Preparedness cannot be the primary goal of the Global Fund. The Delegation believes that what the Global Fund has been able to do in responding to Covid-19 is built on the established ongoing work of the Fund. It is the work of the entire partnership on strengthening health systems, especially community systems, and on promoting and protecting human rights and gender equality, and on mobilizing increased resources that has enabled the Global Fund to respond to this latest pandemic.    

Importance of Community Rights and Gender Equality

The GF’s Community, Rights and Gender (CRG) department has been working under extremely difficult circumstances, especially in a period where human rights abuses and gender disparities have worsened. The DCNGO commended the CRG and urged that this work be prioritised across all levels of the Global Fund.

The Delegation recognized that now more than ever, it is necessary for us to prioritise human rights and gender matters to ensure that we reach our core mission and have an impact on the HIV, TB and malaria responses.  To achieve maximum impact, we need to focus on communities and key populations, and invest time and money into this. We urged greater  investment in decriminalisation, in human rights and gender by supporting community and civil society advocacy through national and regional grants and developing community and youth and key population-friendly services.

Measuring what matters: 

The Delegation supported the Global Fund’s ongoing efforts to improve what and how the Fund  measures impact. We reiterated that the current monitoring and evaluation system and indicators used make it very hard to actually measure the contribution and impact of the work done by communities and  civil society on the HIV, TB and malaria responses. We believe that we need to develop indicators that can truly show the relationship between investing in and supporting community and civil society-led implementation and for measuring impact on  human rights and gender work. It is only by doing this that we are able to show that civil society and key population involvement is fundamental to ending the epidemics. We are heartened by the call for community and key population experts on monitoring and evaluation to contribute to this work.

Calling for vaccine equity:

Lastly, the Developing Country NGO constituency called on all Global Fund partners to do everything possible to ensure Covid 19 vaccine equity across the world.   The  unequal access to vaccines in the developing world mirrors the challenges of two decades ago of antiretroviral medicines.  This despite the commitments of ACT-A to vaccine equity and the capacity of the developing world to produce Covid-19 vaccines and technologies. Therefore we applauded the decision by the United States to support the call for the TRIPS waiver on Covid-19 vaccines at the WTO, and hope that this  will be further supported by others as  the only way to ensure equitable  access to vaccines. 

More details about the Board Meeting’s session on Strategy Development are published by aidspan.org and can be found here: https://www.aidspan.org/en/c/article/5599 

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 our Focal Point at FocalPoint@developingngo.org

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