FCI works to engage Global Fund on maternal, newborn & child health
The board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — which since 2002 has committed $22 billion to support prevention, treatment, and care programs in 150 countries, saving at least 6.5 million lives —has adopted decisions aimed at better integrating maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) interventions with programming for its three focus diseases. This decision, announced at the December 2010 board meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, followed an intensive advocacy effort coordinated by FCI with a range of partners.
This marks an important step toward addressing the hundreds of thousands of preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths that occur each year. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, which focus on reducing maternal and child deaths, remain far off track, and progress has been slowed by lack of a clear financing mechanism through which donors can channel funding for key health interventions. In early 2009, FCI president Ann Starrs co-authored (with prominent AIDS advocates) an article in The Lancet calling for ‘a global fund for the health MDGs.’ Since then, FCI has worked to build bridges among advocates for AIDS and for maternal, child, and reproductive health and to build support for expansion of the Global Fund’s mandate to encompass MNCH. Ann was invited to present on the links between MNCH and HIV/AIDS at the Global Fund’s April board meeting and at the 2010 International AIDS Conference.
Before the December board meeting, FCI authored and coordinated an open letter calling for “immediate action” to “strengthen the Global Fund’s engagement in maternal, newborn, child, and reproductive health,” and for the additional funding needed to support both the Global Fund’s current mandate and this broader engagement. The letter was co-signed by 60 prominent non-governmental organizations. In its decision on “Enhancing Global Fund support to maternal, newborn and child health,” the board promised to provide countries with clear guidance on how to integrate MNCH content into their requests for Global Fund support, and stated an intention to explore further broadening its engagement as it develops a strategic plan for 2011-16.
“There was real progress,” Ann Starrs said after attending the board meeting as an official observer, “and there is opportunity for more.” The challenge, moving forward, is financing —expanding the Global Fund’s mandate requires a parallel expansion of its funding. As we move toward the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDGs, and work together for fulfillment of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, this issue will remain a crucial advocacy focus for FCI and our partners.
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