As the UK approaches a second May Bank holiday, it reminds me how hectic the last one was here in Mozambique. Back at the begining of the month, the May Day bank holiday weekend proved to be quite a busy one here in Maputo with a high level visit by Michel Kazatchkine, the Executive Director (ED) of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. I have attached a link to a short biography of Michel (here). I’ve met Professor Kazatchkine previously when I travelled with Mozambique’s Minister of Health to Geneva to discuss the International Health Partnership. This May Day weekend visit allowed some follow up of the issues and concerns raised at the Geneva meeting and hopefully marks the start of a process to really get Global Fund money flowing, as intended, in support of national priorities.
In spite of considerable success mobilising Global Fund financing, with Mozambique having secured a commitment of over $650 million of funding to fight the three diseases, and with $450 million of that funding still to be disbursed over the next 5 years, Mozambique has struggled to meet all of the Global Funds reporting requirements and therefore to achieve regular disbursement of funds. The visit provided an opportunity for the Global Fund team to hear the perspectives of key stakeholders and for these groups to better understand the mechanics of how the Global Fund works.
If one success of the visit is to be highlighted, then it would be the strong commitment of all parties to improve communication. The ED made a commitment that Alberto Pasini, the country portfolio manager, whom I’ve introduced in a previous blog, will be spending a lot more time in Mozambique. (I have posted a picture above of Michel Kazatchkine and Alberto talking to the health partner group, at a meeting held in the Embassy of the Netherlands). The Allafrica.com website also provides an account of the visit and the call made for stronger advocacy and leadership.
Another key group that the ED had a chance to meet was the Country Coordination Mechanism for the Global Fund (I have provided some background on Mozambique’s CCM previously). This group provides a strong voice for civil society in the development and monitoring of funding proposals to the Global Fund, and thus gives an opportunity for people living with the three diseases to provide more direct feedback on the strength of the national response. On this occasion, as the chair of the CCM was out of the country, the meeting was chaired by Dr Natividade of EcoSIDA, which is a network of private sector organisations supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS. (On the left I have attached a picture of Dr Natividade and Michel Kazatchkine from the CCM meeting).
Making the partnership between the Global Fund and Mozambique work effectively will be a key priority for the Health Partners group, and Marco Gerritsen, who has taken on the role as focal partner, will be leading this task. He can be seen here on the right talking to Amal Medani, the Regional Team Leader of the Global Fund for Southern Africa. Amal has been working with Mozambique since its funding from the Global Fund began, and will be working closely with Alberto Pasini and others from the Global Fund to make sure that this high level visit delivers clear results in terms of getting funds to flow.
What we hope will come from this visit is some rapid progress to allow some outstanding funds to flow more rapidly, and also a closer working relationship which will help strengthen both short and medium term arrangements to improve communication between the Ministry of Health and the Global Fund, which should in future make funding more predictable. What we really want to see at the country level is a way of assuring that funds earmarked for a given year arrive on a specified date early in that year, which will help for both better planning and more effective implementation. I think this visit has allowed us to see a helpful way forward. Mozambique is also gearing up to apply for Round 10 of the Global Fund, as more funds are needed to fund plans to expand the health workforce and to finance the ambitious communication strategy set out in the newly agreed third national HIV/AIDS strategic plan.