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Global Fund seeks support during World Health Worker Week

This week sees a donors meeting in Brussels convened by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in preparation for their replenishment conference in the third quarter of this year.

As part of the build-up to this important meeting for the Global Fund a high level panel discussion was held with stakeholders in the European Parliament on Monday 8 April. The meeting was hosted by the leading liberal MEP Charles Goerens who in the past has served as minister for development in his native Luxembourg.

Global Fund Discussions underway in the European Parliament.

Key contributions

In addition to Charles Goerens, key contributions to the debate came from the Executive Director of the Global Fund – Mark Dybul and the deputy Director General for Development in the European Commission Klaus Rudischhauser.

They were joined on the panel by the Board chair of Roll Back Malaria, Dr. Victor Makwenge Kaput, Lucy Chesire, board member of the communities delegation to the Global Fund and Oxana Ruscuneanu, the “Here I am Campaign” ambassador for Eastern Europe.

Strategic investments

Their first contributions addressed the question of what the best strategic investments for the Global Fund could now be. Following questions from the participants their second round of contributions reflected on the Global Fund’s proposed new funding model.

Although all the participants gave convincing contributions to both of these themes, overall there was no convincing strategic vision.

There were ambitious and motivational contributions which outlined the great contribution the Global Fund had made, and could continue to make in the future. But the only strategic thinking appeared to be geared to securing continued donor support, rather than outlining the added value to Global Health that the Global Fund could provide.

Strengthening health systems

When given an opportunity I did ask the panelists what role the Global Fund could strategically play in strengthening health systems in general, and responding to the crisis in human resources for health in particular.

This question was extremely timely as this week has been designated by the WHO’s Global Health Worker Alliance as the first ever World Health Worker Week, specifically to highlight the need to support, appreciate, and raise awareness of the important role of health workers everywhere.

Ensuring sustainability

Mark Dybul did address the need for the fund to more strategically support partner countries’ national health systems with the new funding model, that would align behind national plans and funding cycles.

Charles Goerens, Klaus Raudischhauser and Mark Dybul all presented a variation on how the Global Fund could catalyse change at national levels via supporting marginalised groups and civil society in support of human rights.

Each of them also outlined how important it was for the “sustainability” of health that countries themselves began to fund their own healthcare as their economies grew.

Health workers must be a priority

But in this week that sees both the Global Fund prepare its replenishment and the World’s first Health Worker Week there was no effort to harness synergies between them, nor any strategic vision for how the Global fund could globally advance health.

It remains important for the replenishment of the Global Fund to be successful. But it is equally important that the work the fund undertakes increasingly strengthens the weak health systems which currently undermine the treatment and prevention of the three major diseases the fund was created to tackle – AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria – as well as healthcare more generally.

With the WHO estimating that around 4 million more health workers are needed globally, this is one area which the funds could strategically target as a priority. The need for such support is exactly what has stimulated the designation of this week as World Health Worker Week in the first place.

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