Last week, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria celebrated its 10th anniversary while fielding painful questions about its future. Its executive director resigned while a new general manager was appointed to spur reform. It received a pledge of $750 million but officially canceled grantmaking for the next three years due to insufficient funds.
“There is nothing broken that can’t be fixed, but there’s a lot of fixing to do,” said Gabriel Jaramillo, the Global Fund’s new general manager, to The Wall Street Journal.
When one of the world’s leading sources of global health funding cuts programs, you know there’ll be trouble.
“We are just burying a grenade that is going to explode in future,” Peter Mugyenyi told AlertNet during a demonstration in Nairobi this week. “If we don’t increase funding now, we already know that the transmission of HIV is going to increase.”
Mugyenyi, a Ugandan scientist, had traveled to Kenya to demonstrate for more HIV and AIDS funding — a call activists around the globe picked up as well.
How different the mood was just two months ago, when activists met to celebrate World AIDS Day! Then, amid grave concerns about the Global Fund, activists boldly declared the beginning of the end of AIDS.
“A Global Fund that is downsizing is a bitter pill to swallow,” said Nelson Otwoma, national coordinator of the National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya, said this week. “We’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel with the HIV epidemic, so now is not the time to shift into a lower gear.”
The U.S. global AIDS coordinator, Eric Goosby, said: “The science is clear that achieving a generation born HIV-free is possible. It is also a smart investment that will save lives and pay dividends in many of the world’s emerging economies.”
And Bill Gates pulled no punches: “We detest the fact that some of the already small amount of aid money earmarked for the poor is misused, but it would be deplorable if relatively rare events of corruption were to get more attention than the millions of lives the Global Fund has saved.”
Devex readers chimed in, too. Ole Skovmand, for instance, suggested the Global Fund look into alternative financing schemes that, for instance, separate the general budget support of recipient governments from the purchase of medication and other goods.
“If [the Global Fund made] the money movement less real that would remove a lot of possibilities for corruption,” Skovmand wrote via Facebook.
What do you think the Global Fund — under its new general manager and board chairman Simon Bland (of the U.K. Department for International Development, one of the strongest supporters of global health causes) — do now? Let us know by leaving a comment below, or send us a note via Facebook or Twitter.
Read last week’s Development Buzz.