“It is important to listen to and try to understand the donor perspective” said Ambassador Fidel Lopez Alvarez speaking at the Global Fund’s South America CCMs/RCMs Regional Meeting.

The Ambassador was representing the Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency (AECID) at the conference which took place in Asuncion, Paraguay, during December 2009.

“There is a dual concern between the donors, on one hand, the global financial situation and on the other hand, the approach that the Global Fund has taken” he said.

He also explained that the Global Fund has undertaken commitments of $7million up to Round 9. In the actual cycle of procuring resources of the Fund, which is about to conclude, the donors raised the sum of $10billion.

If during the next cycle – which begins in 2010 – a similar sum can be achieved, then that would be a great success considering the global crisis he said.

However, this result would leave less than $3billion for future funding rounds, a little over what was required for any of the recent rounds by itself (Round 9 had a total sum of $2.2billion).

Aside from the economic crisis, the donor community is concerned about the impact the Global Fund could have on the national health systems by continuing in the trend of a vertical approach where more resources are invested in some countries, in only one disease, than all other programmes in Public Health.

However, they take a favourable view of the progress achieved in the application of strengthening policies of the health systems and the horizons that will be opened regarding the requests of Global Fund National Strategies.

Concerning the region, he adds: “The admonishment is so that they put political pressure on governments in Latin America to provide us with common criteria that could favour the Fund and the region.

“One must be creative, positive and proactive. I think that the following areas need to be explored: the high-technical quality of the proposals, explore in-depth the mechanisms of co-funding, given that there are no contradictions between being a donor and being a recipient of the resources; continue to strengthen political advocacy in order to increase understanding about concentrated epidemics and there is a need to redouble the efforts on prevention and lastly, the trend towards requesting resources through national strategies”.

Lopez Alvarez also recommended working strategically with other delegations in the governing board of the Global Fund, working with countries that have both similar epidemics and similar national incomes, and also working with civil society, the private sector and foundations.

He also announced the significant contribution made by the Spanish government to UNAIDS for the provision of Technical Assistance affiliated with the Global Fund.

“I regret having to share with you this warning, but it is time for all the actors in the region to put forth strategies that maintain Latin America within the portfolio of the Global Fund.

“The Government of Spain has been and always will be supporting Latin America within the Global Fund, as we have been doing in other international institutions”, concluded the Ambassador.

The words of the representative of the Spanish Government, far from being negative or foreboding, merely added to other voices at the conference. Therefore the region as a whole can embark on a series of activities that follow the agenda of the donors.

We will soon find out if the warnings generate positive actions within an international context where it is no longer enough to just ask for donations from international financial mechanisms.

By Alejandra Ruffo and Javier Hourcade Bellocq

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