GHC Legislative and Outreach Coordinator Duncan Rollason will be blogging all week from the (ICAAP) in Bali, Indonesia. Here is his second report:
BALI, Indonesia — The first day of sessions at the 9th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific has come to a close. It was quite a hectic day with more events than I could even dream of attending. I found myself bouncing from one event to the next, trying to keep you, the reader, in mind. I attended events that focused on AIDS in the region, universal access, gender, decriminalization, financing, health systems strengthening and much more.
As you can imagine there were numerous topics of discussion just in the handful of events I attended. I found one reoccurring theme though, perhaps a result of the current global economic climate — the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. We heard from Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund, on two separate occasions today. Also to speak from the Global Fund was David Winters, country coordinating mechanism manager, and Michael O’Connor, manager of civil society and private sector partnerships.
In his first session here at ICAAP, Kazatchkine laid out a list of major challenges to reaching universal access around the globe. Lack of resources, prioritizing interventions, tuberculosis, health systems strengthening and expanding antiretroviral therapy were just a few. He called on those in the audience for their advocacy efforts at the country level and in global solidarity to ensure financial commitments to the Global Fund are kept. Many recipients and applicants of funding took the opportunity to have their voices heard during the question and answer that followed.
In a later session on new opportunities for civil society collaboration with the Global Fund, Winters and O’Connor described new policies and initiatives in the works at the Global Fund. Two new initiatives — Dual Track Financing (DTF) and Community Systems Strengthening (CSS) — are designed to maximize the community-based response to HIV/AIDS. Country coordinating mechanism policy issues such as governance, oversight, strengthening civil society engagement and alignment with core national structures were also a topic of discussion. Keep an eye out for more new information to come on Global Fund programming and policy.
The second plenary of the day brought Kazatchkine back to the podium for a broader discussion about how the Global Fund supports health systems strengthening. Country proposals can take the following forms: health systems as a strategic plan linked to a specific disease (all components needed to support delivery of AIDS interventions) and/or cross-cutting health systems strengthening activities that relate to more than one disease (TB/HIV integration). Kazatchkine pointed out that 35 % of funds from both the Global Fund and PEPFAR directly support health systems strengthening.
The first day was certainly an indication that there is much more valuable information and interaction between the non-governmental organization community, multilateral and bilateral mechanisms and the private sector to come.