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Will the donors ever make life simpler for developing countries?

This week, Nouria Brikci and I took part in a high-level meeting to discuss how global aid for health should be aligned in a new mechanism. Save the Children has long supported the need for the global aid architecture to be improved. Currently rich countries that donate aid and the mechanisms they have set up place an enormous burden on the limited capcacity of developing country governments. Hundreds of donors, all with their own forms, systems and inspections demand that the governments report separately on the aid they receive. Yesterday, one of the speakers, Henry Kansembe from the Zambian Ministry of Health, joked that he knew he would meet all the people in the room again before he retired as was sure they would all be coming through his office for meetings.

The High-Level Taskforce on Innovative Financing for Health Systems that was chaired by Gordon Brown and Robert Zoellick, recommended that the World bank, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS TB & Malaria and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation should try to develop a common platform for funding for health systems . The idea is that, if they could put together their systems and reduce the duplication that recipient governments have to face, then this would be a major step. That process is underway and this week’s consultation meeting was a step in the process. We have lots of questions.

We are disappointed that the Taskforce did not come up with the substantial amount of new money that is needed; the governments were unwilling to look at a currency transaction level which is the only big solution that could have done it. The question also remains whether the “common platform” will get the support of donors. Since the same donors control the boards of the Bank, Global Fund and GAVI, then this will be the next test. Also, the mechanisms of the three multilaterals are very different – and while the Global Fund and GAVI go to great lengths to try to be transparent and democratic and involve civil society groups like Save the Children, the World Bank is much less transparent. Therefore the question is, whose systems will be followed?

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