ON SATURDAY MAY 6, 2017 AT THE SIMIEN SALON, SHERATON ADDIS HOTEL,
ADDIS ABABA, FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA
Let me start by thanking the Ethiopian Public Health Association (EPHA) and the African Constituency Bureau (ACB) for organizing this official launch of the ACB and for inviting me.
I have been asked to make remarks on behalf of the Africa Global Fund Constituency Reform Taskforce, a duty that was initially assigned to Dr. Fatai Bello, the immediate past Executive Secretary of CCM Nigeria and a member of the Task Force. Dr. Bello is unavoidably absent and sends his apologies and warm wishes.
I am not a member of the Taskforce but I was the Board Member representing West and Central Africa (WCA), who along with Dr. Anita Asiimwe, the Board Member representing Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), and our alternates Professor Mireille Prince-David and Hon. Benedict Xaba, initiated action and promoted the establishment of the ACB. I was also privileged to be granted the power of attorney to sign the Host Country Agreement with the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
On this occasion, I consider it proper to acknowledge and pay tribute to those who played a key role in the establishment of the ACB. These persons include the Board Chairs and Members of the Global Fund between 2012 and 2017; Hon. Dr. Mphu Ramatlapeng (Former Minister of Health of Lesotho) who as the Vice-Chair of the Global Fund strongly advocated and ensured the commitment of resources for the establishment of the ACB, and indeed convened the consultative meeting of the two Africa Constituencies in July 2012 in Johannesburg to consider among other things the establishment of the ACB;
Professor Vinand Nantulya (Global Fund ‘Veteran’) whose seminal memo on the need for a technical resource centre to support the Africa Constituencies birthed the idea for the establishment of the ACB; Dr. Mark Dybul (outgoing Executive Director of the Global Fund) for his passion for the ACB and under whose watch the ACB was established; Dr. Kathy Kantengwa (Senior Advisor at the Global Fund) who as the Global Fund’s Focal Point for Africa Constituencies coordinated the establishment of the ACB; Dr. Fatai Bello, Ida Hakizinka, Ibrahim Tajudeen Olaitan, and Vulindlela Msibi whose competency and performance as Communication Focal Points or assistants to the Focal Points for the Africa constituencies greatly facilitated the coordination of activities leading to the establishment of the ACB; the Late Rangarirai Chiteure who was the Coordinator of Zimbabwe CCM Secretariat and the Chairman of the Africa Global Fund Constituency Reform Taskforce (simply referred to as ‘The Taskforce’) who together with his team worked tirelessly and successfully executed the mandate of establishing the ACB. Even though he is no longer physically with us but in spirit, we owe him a big debt of gratitude for his doggedness, selflessness and commitment; Dr. Alemayehu Mekonnen, the Executive Director of EPHA and his deputy Semegnew Mengestu for facilitating the host country agreement as well as facilitating the take-off of the bureau; and Shu-Shu Tekle-Haimanot of the Global Fund Secretariat whose passion and enthusiasm helped in no small way to facilitate communication with the Global Fund Secretariat.
Some organizations also played key roles. Notable among them are the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) which provided technical assistance; the EPHA, the institution acting on behalf of the Ethiopian Government and which served as proxy for the ACB until the latter was on ground; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which besides the Global Fund itself has been the sole sponsor of the ACB. I am happy BMGF is well represented on this occasion by Ms Maria. Our gratitude should be conveyed to the Board of BMGF; and the UNDP, which kindly provided ACB with its takeoff offices.
The ACB was envisioned to ‘provide effective technical and communication services to the constituencies’. The envisaged functions of the bureau were listed as:
a. Regular communication within and between the constituencies;
b. Ensuring effective document management and access by constituencies;
c. Analysis and development of constituency positions in consultation with constituency members, and developing strategies for effective advocacy on the issues to mobilize support amongst other Board constituencies;
d. Support for monitoring and analysis of grant portfolios; and
e. Logistical and organizational support for constituency participation in Board and Committee meetings.
I believe that for ACB to successfully accomplish these tasks and engender an effective board representation, it must focus on the following areas:
A: Audit of country status and scenario in relation to the three diseases;
C: Communication within and between Constituencies, and Coordination;
B: Bankrolling its operations and activities by securing adequate funding.
Meeting the expectations of 47 countries (sharing at least 5 official languages) that constitute ESA and WCA is a huge challenge but with diligent implementation of its mandate, adequate financial support, and prudent and efficient management of resources, ACB will be a success story.
On behalf of the taskforce, I congratulate our Board Members – Dr. David Apuuli of ESA and Prof. Awa Marie Coll-Seck of WCA, and their alternates – Dr. Gerald Gwinji and Dr. Bernice T. Dahn; the President of EPHA Dr. Filimona Bisrat; the Executive Director of ACB Dr. Fred Muwanga; and members of both constituencies on this epoch-ushering occasion.
I thank you.
Prof. C.O. Onyebuchi Chukwu
May 6, 2017