Key Takeaways: The Global Fund’s 37th Board Meeting

The following are some key takeaways from the Global Fund’s 37th Board Meeting, held on May 3-4, 2017, in Kigali, Rwanda.

1. The Global Fund has new Board leadership and a plan to select a new Executive Director

The Global Fund Board of Directors appointed Aida Kurtović, who has served as Vice-Chair for the past two years, as the new Chair, and U.S. Ambassador John Simon as incoming Vice-Chair.

Kurtović has served previously with the Global Fund as a Board member and as a member of Bosnia’s Country Coordinating Mechanism. She is also the Executive Director of Partnerships in Health, an organization in Sarajevo that assists in building capacity and achieving sustainable improvements in health services, including HIV testing and support. Amb. Simon brings expertise in innovative finance, and is currently the founder and managing partner of Total Impact Capital investment firm. He has served as U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, as Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, as a senior director in the U.S. National Security Council and as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush.

The Board advanced the selection process for a new Executive Director. (Current Chief of Staff Marijke Wijnroks begins June 1 serving as Interim Executive Director.) A rigorous selection process and timeline were established — including a search firm launched this month, two rounds of interviews in September, and a final selection made at the Global Fund’s next Board meeting in November.

2. Success in receipt of pledged funds
In a promising trend for the fulfillment of Replenishment commitments, and to maximize the impact of U.S. contributions that leverage a 2-to-1 match by other donors, a Board Meeting session on finances highlighted that in 2016:

  • Pledged resources received exceeded $5 billion, significantly more than in the previous Replenishment cycle.
  • Conversion of pledges for the Fourth Replenishment (2014-2016) is nearly 100 percent, with only some $200 million outstanding – which are not at risk of being lost.

3. Understanding “megatrends” crucial to progress
In his opening presentation, Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul stressed several megatrends that will be key to progress toward ending the three epidemics, including:

  • Sustainability: Moving even farther down the path to in-country ownership, data will be increasingly important to ensure disease responses are optimized, and to meet goals to end AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria as epidemics by 2030. This will require critical long-term thinking about broader development of countries’ own health strategies, creation of financial efficiencies, and how to better engage youth (and particularly adolescent girls).
  • Demographic Trends: Dr. Dybul stressed the importance of migration, population growth (with a huge “youth bulge”), and HIV-related evidence by gender and age group. He said that implementation of health programming has brought the world to a tipping point of ending the three epidemics, but slowed efforts risk their reemergence. In particular, young women ages 16-23 are at high risk of HIV, and HIV incidence could balloon if youth populations are not reached.
  • Transition: The Global Fund has had success leveraging resources and driving nations to invest in their own disease response. The partnership will work to implement a new long-term strategy and timelines to ensure countries are prepared to transition out of Global Fund support and manage epidemiological challenges in the years ahead.
  • Co-financing: The Global Fund must build on the transparency, accountability and governance that has driven its success to date, and work to cultivate financial innovations that leverage the financial impact of domestic investments.

4. Increased domestic investment and partnering for adequate financing to end epidemics
The Global Fund is working to find additional resources to fight the epidemics in a challenging funding environment, and presented an action plan to the Board to mobilize an additional $500 million over the Global Fund’s 2017-2019 Replenishment cycle. The action strategy includes plans to:

  • Sustain or increase engagement with donor governments
  • Cultivate new public donors, including those with emerging economies and increased strategic engagement with the Gulf states
  • Increase coordination and support to civil society advocacy partners in major donor countries
  • Grow public-private synergies and increase private sector partners, in addition to developing new models of investment
  • Accelerate and expand major gifts strategy from high-net-worth individuals
  • Support the expansion of (RED) and other third-party grassroots organizations, including faith-based organizations

In addition to this action plan, the Global Fund’s co-financing strategy will work to continue to strengthen domestic investment.

5. The Global Fund is building on its strong track record of innovation
Innovation has spurred progress on the Global Fund’s e-marketplace platform for the procurement of medical commodities, The Board approved to pilot up to 10 procurements by current Principal Recipients (in-country implementers of Global Fund grants), using domestic funding for the platform for the first time. is helping to streamline procurement for both implementing partners and within the Global Fund, enabling more efficient transactions that are projected to save $12.4 million in 2017 alone. This new pilot funding stands to expand the platform’s impact and the sustainability of in-country supply chain management.

As an experimental pilot program, the Board voted to enter into a new agreement with the World Bank for a performance-based funding project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The agreement will not set a legal precedent for future investments, and Board members encouraged the Secretariat to create a framework to guide future consideration of such investments, to be audited and reviewed for efficacy.

On a separate note, the board discussed the deteriorating health services situation in Venezuela. Though the country is not eligible for Global Fund financing at this time, the board said that the Fund, “will continue to engage and, if possible, support the regional response.”