Soon, World Health Organization experts will be providing technical assistance to country teams and civil society groups looking to secure grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The Global Fund last year launched a new funding model under which countries vying for funding are more likely to need help designing their strategic plans and concept notes. So in August, the fund began discussions with WHO on how they may collaborate to ensure developing countries have the assistance they need to succeed.
At last week’s World Health Assembly in Geneva, the two groups announced they had struck up a partnership as part of which WHO will extend its technical expertise to Global Fund applicants that request help in their planning. The partnership ends in December 2015, although Devex has learned that most of the technical assistance is expected to be provided in the next 12 months.
But there's a caveat: the assistance is only for those that have exhausted other avenues for technical support.
"As this agreement is aiming at covering the funding gap in technical assistance, it will cover requests where no other sources of funding for technical assistance are available," WHO Department of Communications Coordinator Sarah Catherine Russell told Devex.
The Global Fund is providing $29 million for this initiative.
How does it work
The Global Fund's criteria for choosing which applicants to provide technical assistance to remain somewhat unclear, although Russell noted countries with "more pressing needs" or those in immediate need for funding — because their current grants are about to end — will be "supported earlier."
Country Coordinating Mechanisms, civil society organizations and even Global Fund country teams can put in requests, but these must be endorsed by a country's Ministry of Health, Global Fund spokesperson Ibon Villelabeitia explained to Devex.
Requests will be channeled through the Global Fund first before reaching WHO for final approval, he added.
WHO won’t hire new staff to provide the technical assistance envisioned under its agreement with the Global Fund, but instead pool current staff to be "operational right away." It will tap experts from its country offices, local experts and "if needed," from employees from headquarters and WHO regional offices, as well as other qualified specialists from its network, such as the Stop TB Partnerships and Roll Back Malaria.
"This will definitely be a global effort for WHO. We have focal points in our six regional offices and we have already started this work and its coordination. Heads of WHO country offices will be at the fore-front of the work, liaising with the Ministries of Health, the country coordinating mechanisms and the fund portfolio managers," Russell explained.
The different types of support WHO and partners are expected to provide include the collection of epidemiological data, identification of programmatic and financial gap analyses, the identification of the different interventions needed to tackle more effectively the problems of HIV, TB and malaria in a given country, and the development of national strategic plans.
The Global Fund has embarked on a series of changes in line with its new model. In November, the fund proposed a new strategy for countries submitting proposals tackling TB and HIV, as well as a new procurement strategy that was meant to stabilize demand and prices for life-saving tools combatting AIDS, TB and malaria.
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