Mark Rice, Aaron Oxley, Carol Nyirenda and Christoph Benn

By Mark Rice, RESULTS Australia’s Global Health Campaigns Manager.

RESULTS Australia staff and enthusiastic volunteers joined our ACTION partners,13,600 delegates and 6,000 visitors to the Global Village at the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne on July 20-25.  Our daily updates during the week shared some of the excitement and highlights from the Conference. Beyond these highlights, it is also important to note how well we met RESULTS Australia’s first objective for AIDS 2014, which was to obtain a commitment from the Australian Government for an additional contribution of $125 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in 2014 to 2016.

In his address to the Opening Ceremony of the Conference, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss only restated the Government’s three-year commitment of $200 million announced last December.   However, we may have more time than we had anticipated to seek a supplementary payment by Australia to the Global Fund.

At a session on Closing the Resource Gap for the Global Fund in 2014 to 2016 that RESULTS Australia organised at AIDS 2014, Dr Christoph Benn, Global Fund External Relations Director, indicated that the United States Government may extend an offer of a matching contribution to other Governments’ pledges, originally due to expire in September, by several months.  If an additional Australian pledge is to have the maximum impact, it is essential that the Government announces it while the US matching funding is still available.

This means that RESULTS Australia can continue to seek a supplementary contribution for the 2014 to 2016 period over the rest of this year, before we switch our focus to requesting a significant contribution by Australia in 2017 to 2019.  Dr Benn noted that the next Replenishment Conference for the Global Fund is likely to take place in mid-2016, so we would need to start campaigning on pledges from early 2015 to increase our chances of success.

The other presentations and discussion at the session on Closing the Resource Gap for the Global Fund concentrated on how to obtain additional funding from established donors, new national donors and private donors:

The increased and early UK pledge:   RESULTS UK’s Executive Director, Aaron Oxley, explained some of the factors that contributed to the pledge of up to £1 billion ($A 1.8 billion) by the UK Government, announced ahead of the December 2013 pledging conference:

  • Having a firm, cross-party political commitment to increase overall aid by the UK meant that extra funding was available. Campaigners had strong evidence to argue the Global Fund is an excellent use for increased UK aid and in strong alignment with UK’s own goals and objectives.
  • Campaigners helped create political space for a large increase by having a specific request of £1 billion. This was double the amount the UK had contributed in 2010 to 2012, and campaigners used this number consistently in communication with the public and MPs, highlighting the impact it could have on the three diseases.
  • By having strong relationships with Government officials, RESULTS UK and other organisations made a credible commitment to create a strong positive (or negative) public response to a UK pledge. They collectively delivered on that commitment with an overwhelmingly positive response.

Kenya becoming a first-time donor:   Allan Ragi, Executive Director of KANCO, set out how campaigners in Kenya had obtained support from the Kenyan Government for its first-time Global Fund contribution of $2 million announced in December 2013.  The key elements in this success were:

  • Relating the request for Global Fund contributions to the provisions in the Constitution of Kenya to rights to services, including health services.
  • Having both State Governors and members of the national parliament take up the request for Kenya to become a contributor.

Zambia as a potential donor:  Carol Nyirenda, Public Health Patient Advocate for CITAM+, explained that campaigners in Zambia are seeking additional domestic spending on health by the Zambian Government, so it can use contributions by donors more effectively, and is also asking Zambia to become a Global Fund contributor.  An important role for campaigners in Zambia is to educate Parliamentarians and officials on both the need for health programs, and the process for obtaining resources from the Global Fund.  Members of RESULTS Australia would be familiar with the role we also have of educating our Parliamentarians on issues, as well as making specific requests for action.

Private sector contributors:  Dr Benn noted that the business sector will support the Global Fund if their contribution is consistent with their business goals – for example, mining companies operating internationally have an interest in a healthy workforce.  If we as advocates know of businesses which are potential contributors, the Global Fund would welcome receiving contact details from these businesses.

These lessons from other countries will be valuable for us in seeking further contributions from the Australian Government in the current and future Global Fund replenishments.