With its coffers running at least US$1 billion short, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is looking to the private sector to fill the funding gap.
At a 12 October conference on the role of business in health in Johannesburg, South Africa, members of the Fund’s board and secretariat said private sector contributions had become increasingly important as its historic donors – governments – were shying away from fully funding the global health financing mechanism.
“In the new context that we’re in, where we’ve gotten [funding] increases from governments but we know that these governments are under pressure, this is exactly where the private sector has to step up,” said the Global Fund’s private sector team manager, David Hayward Evans. ”We need more funds... and we believe, we hope, that the private sector can contribute.”
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At the 5 October replenishment meeting in New York, donors pledged $11.7 billion to the Global Fund over the next three years, but the Fund projected it would need at least $13 billion over the same period to maintain current programming. Private sector contributions, led by petroleum producer, Chevron, only accounted for about 3 percent of all pledged contributions at the meeting.
Brian Brink, chief medical officer for international mining corporation Anglo American, who represents the private sector on the Fund’s board, told IRIN/PlusNews he would like to see business become one of the Global Fund’s top 10 donors. He plans to push the idea at a special business summit ahead of this year’s G20 meeting in South Korea on 11 November.
At present, business can support the Global Fund in several ways, including in-kind donations, such as the provision of country support staff; by supporting the implementation of Global Fund financed programmes through skills training; or by acting as a service provider.
Brink highlighted successful examples of such partnerships, including the training in financial management of Global Fund grantees by Standard Bank and the distribution of bed nets by South African-based fast-food chain, Nando’s, but there are indications that the private sector is less keen to make financial contributions.
The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC), an independent NGO that serves as a focal point for public-private partnership within the Fund, conducted a survey of 30 of the companies invited to take part in the Johannesburg conference. The survey found companies were most interested in contributing to the Fund through in-kind donations.
Among the companies’ main concerns in partnering with the Global Fund were that they would be seen as money pots, the potential for conflicts of interest, and that the Global Fund did not align with their corporate social responsibility strategies.
According to Evans, some businesses also remained wary of joining forces with the Fund's governmental partners, regarded as overly bureaucratic compared with the corporate world.