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HEALTH: New Global Fund executive director on the Fund’s future

JOHANNESBURG, 20 November 2012 (IRIN) - After months of headhunting and interviews, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has appointed Mark Dybul, former director of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), as its new executive director. Dybul spoke to IRIN/PlusNews about the future of the Fund.

Dybul is the third person to hold the position since the Fund’s creation in 2002. He previously served as a staff clinician and assistant director for medical affairs at the US National Institutes of Health. He went on to serve as US Global AIDS Coordinator from 2006 to 2008.

As he begins his four-year term in early February 2013, current Fund general manager Gabriel Jaramillo will transition out of his position. That position, created to guide the Fund through reforms proposed by a 2011 high-level review panel at a time of low donor confidence, will disappear.

Dybul is expected to assume both the task of managing the Fund’s day-to-day workings and the extensive schedule of public events previous directors have grappled with. These will be all the more pressing as the Fund approaches its 2013 replenishment meeting.

Dybul lauded the progress made by the Fund in implementing many of the panel’s recommendations, for which he credits, in part, the Fund’s former executive director, Michel Kazatchkine.

His job now, he says, will be to carry these reforms forward and help the Fund capitalize on investments by, among other things, experimenting with innovative financing and co-financing and building private sector involvement.

“One of the things that is most exciting for me is that… the Fund is a learning organization. It routinely reviews, reflects and adapts,” Dybul told IRIN/PlusNews. “The Fund is now in a very strong position with a strong forward trajectory.”

Among the ongoing reforms Dybul plans to support will be the move to a new funding model, better risk management and new information management systems.

More bang for the buck

As funding for HIV has flat-lined, phrases like “investment frameworks” and “value for money” have become increasingly common. With less money to go around, organizations and national governments are under pressure to show more bang for donor bucks.

Doing so brings money - a lesson Dybul learned while at PEPFAR’s helm, he told AIDSmap earlier this year.

“The principle lesson to be learned from PEPFAR is that results drive money. You have to establish a clear path, goals and show significant progress,” he told the news service. “People respond to that because they can see the return.”

Dybul is confident the same strategy will make the Fund a compelling cause for donors.

“It’s not often, as policy makers or tax payers, that we have the opportunity to contribute to completely controlling - we’re not going to eliminate yet - three of the biggest killers in the world, including the modern-day plague of HIV and malaria, which has been a massive killer for millennium," he said. “Science has given us the tools; today we have a window in which to do that.”

''I would expect the Fund to look different in four years ... Static organizations are by definition bureaucracies; if you're not changing, that's when you should be worried.''
Building bridges

Dybul will focus on building on existing partnerships with technical agencies, and he will work with potential financing partners from both the public and private sectors.

According to Dybul, the Fund is looking to partner with development financing institutions like the World Bank and regional counterparts, as well as national development agencies and emerging economies, to look at co-financing projects.

Dybul says he hopes innovative thinking will help the Fund duplicate some of the past successes of organizations like the GAVI Alliance, which created an initiative to raise billions of dollars for vaccines in a way that allowed vaccines to be available sooner rather than later.

As the organization explores innovative financing mechanisms, it will also look to businesses, foundations and high-level individuals. The Fund has already received substantial contributions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dybul says he has no major changes planned for the Fund, but he expects that it will continue to evolve.

“I would expect the Fund to look different in four years, just as it looked different four years ago,” Dybul told IRIN/PlusNews. “Static organizations are by definition bureaucracies; if you’re not changing, that’s when you should be worried.”

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Theme (s): Aid Policy, Health & Nutrition, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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