The Annual Consultative Meeting which is the highest decision making body of the African Constituencies has just concluded; exceptionally, the two-day meeting (2-3 November) was held virtually and brought together nearly 150 delegates from more than 30 countries.
This annual gathering,that took place just after country consultations during which Africa reflected on its priorities for the next Global Fund strategy, enabled countries to (i) Advance discussions on the Global Fund's post-2022 strategy by further analyzing the issues identified in the Stakeholder Engagement Framework, with a view to identifying our key priorities for the Global Fund.Out of the 15 priorities previously identified and for which the Constituencies had built consensus, seven will ultimately be submitted to the GF as issues of utmost importance for the continent that bears the highest burden of the three diseases: 90% for malaria; 70% for AIDS; and 25% for TB. Thus, in addition to the disease burden, the continent takes up70% of Global Fund resources, hence, for African countries, it becomes critical to reimagine how Global Fund investments can be maximized for impact. For this purpose, African constituencies are making their voice heard to push the Global Fund to considera raft of recommendations such as the implementation of specific funding requests for health system strengthening in countries. At the moment, current health system strengthening activities are embedded within the three diseases but lack the systems strengthening drive that is required. According to Dr. Mele Djalo a member of the Global Fund Strategy Committee:"It is important to have specific allocations for health system strengthening in African countries in order to avoid sprinkling". This would be a strategic intervention that would allow better coordination and implementation of health system strengthening activities if they are part of national planning, which is why countries like Ethiopia or Côte d’Ivoire.
In this future strategy, priorities specific toWest and Central Africa’s also emerged against the backdrop of historical weak performance. The consultations led to agreement on 8 key priorities that would inform the development of the next GF strategy that include Health Sector Governance, Community Systems Strengthening, Human Resources for Health (HRH), Access to Quality Health Services, Promotion of Health Services within the framework of Centers of Excellence (COE), Technical Assistance, coordination of health systems strengthening activities. According to Dr Hyppolite Kalambay of WHO Health sector governance in particular is "the foundation of any resilient, sustainable and efficient health system, regardless of the level of development of countries”. The next step in its series of consultations will be the launching of the "African Voice for the Global Fund" advocacy campaign with support from L'Initiative and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's (FCDO).
The meeting also aimed at developing constituency consensus on critical issues regarding the implementation of Global Fund programs that require the Global Fund Board’s attention (GF Board), and mandating Board members representing East and Southern Africa and West and Central Africa to present them at the 44th GF Board meeting to be held on 11-12 November 2020.
The meeting concluded with the ratification of the revised governance framework for African constituencies which was unanimously passed by countries present.