After implementing a series of reforms over the past two years to restore donor confidence, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has finally approved final elements of its new funding model that is expected to provide more result predictability, impact and inclusive country dialogue.
In a meeting in Jakarta on Friday, the board introduced some adjustments in the funding model. Seth Faison, chief spokesperson for the organization, did not elaborate what these adjustments were, but told Devex the "basic structure and principle are in line with what was planned."
The new funding model, which has been piloted in several countries in the past year, features a more flexible funding system, allowing countries to apply for Global Fund grants at a period that is in sync with their national budget cycle and needs.
Tentative funding levels per country will continue to be largely based on disease burden and ability to pay, but other qualitative factors will be factored in, though to a "lesser degree."
The board set the initial allocation for 2014-2016 at $10.2 billion, including an approximate $1 billion for incentive funding that the board is setting aside under the new model for "ambitious investment cases."
That is 83 percent of the $12.2 billion in pledges that the fund has received so far since its replenishment meeting in December — but not yet final, as Faison noted that the total amount of money available for the three-year period "has to factor in existing commitments (grants approved in the past, that are still underway), operating expenses, special initiatives, and other factors."
The composition and allocation of each country band — or the group of countries that share similarities in terms of income status and disease burden — were approved, but not yet individual country allocations.
These will be finalized and communicated to countries "in the near future," but what's for sure is that some countries will receive more and others less than before, said Faison.
The new model's 'critical piece'
Several countries participated in the funding model's initial phase last year, to test how the new model would work.
Now as it nears full rollout, Faison said the biggest lesson they learned from the transition phase was the significance of the so-called "country dialogues," as showcased by the 100 percent approval rate the Global Fund has achieved in early implementer applications. Under the new model, a technical review panel will conduct consultations and provide feedback to country coordination mechanisms in charge of developing concept notes in order to increase applicants' chances of approval.
"[It] is the critical piece of the new funding model. When all partners are involved in devising grant proposals, we get the most informed and well-considered concept note. In addition, implementing partners involved in the process generally said that the chance for frequent, informal back-and-forth with Global Fund staff during the process of drafting a concept note was invaluable," Faison explained.
The jury is still out on whether the new funding model, when it goes full implementation, will weed out standing ineffectiveness and inefficiency in health programs against AIDS, TB and malaria. But the organization appears to be on a roll on changes to address this, and last November it embarked on a new procurement strategy and proposed a new approach to dealing with TB and HIV co-infection, the latter hailed by groups advocating for full TB eradication.
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