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Latin America faces a big challenge as a consequence of the international cooperation context. All countries with Global Fund grants must enter into a transition process so the Governments fully assume the responsibility to respond to malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.
By: Bernabé Ruíz Águila
In the search to create a dialogue on the Sustainability and Transition Policy of the Global Fund Transition, as well as to identify and prioritize the risk factors related to such sustainability and transition of the projects funded by the Fund in Latin America and the Caribbean, representatives from civil society and governments met in Panama on March 21 and 22.
The “Forum on Risks for Latin America and the Caribbean: Effective risks management for sustainable transitions of programs funded by the Global Fund”, allowed the exchange of current approaches and practices among the projects implementers in Latin America and the Caribbean (especially civil society) and the Global Fund Secretariat and its partners, in order to mitigate the risks related to sustainability and to evaluate opportunities for alignment between the partners and the technical assistance providers.
Civil society participation
Representatives from seventeen countries from Latin America and the Caribbean participated at the forum. They heard with some uncertainty and uneasiness the interventions from the speakers about the time terms in which the Global Fund would leave the region and the mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of ongoing activities.
For several years we have heard that the Global Fund will leave our region, the fact that a new transition proposal was presented – as mentioned by the participants- for many of them was not new at all. There are countries like Colombia that began this process and can be seen as a successful model to replicate in the search of sustainability.
Civil society participation was very enriching in terms of proposals that will be useful to start this transition process. Among the more frequent approaches were: the need to better plan the transition activities and processes to have better sustainability, to seek domestics funding, to build the response based on a human rights approach, to demand from our governments their involvement in the topics of the three diseases assuming their roles and responsibilities.
Panama is not eligible for the Global Fund
Panama, due to studies of wealth index, which rate it with an upper middle income, for many years was not eligible for GF grants. However, at the 10th Round a window was opened to submit proposals focused exclusively on populations in major risk. With the updates discussed at the Forum, Panama will maintain its eligibility for malaria and tuberculosis, provided that the action proposals are very well supported by current evidence; however it will not be eligible anymore in the HIV component and the government shall have to gradually take its role and responsibility on this epidemic.
It is expected that the transition process, should take at least between five and ten years.
The risks of transition and sustainability
The limited availability of data on the diseases and its deficient use, as well as limited funding for programs directed to reduce barriers to services linked to human rights, are some of the risks that were mentioned at the meeting and should be analyzed, discussed and tackled with much relevance.
It is important to start by promoting a risks analysis with the participation of all sectors, as well as dialogue and consultation on proposals and strategies that can be included in a transition plan. In all these processes and in finding the best paths, the government, civil society and technical experts, including the Global Fund and sub regional organizations, must work together in order to achieve a good transition process for the Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Annelise Hirschmann, Regional Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean, gave the closing speech at the forum. She encouraged replicating the successful transition models presented at the forum and advised to be more risky in the search of domestic funds. On the other hand, Cesar Nuñez from UNAIDS, said that there are fewer resources to work on HIV and that the LAC region countries should work hard, together with civil society to win the fight against the three diseases. He also invited civil society to participate at the High Level Meeting to be held in June in New York and encourage on each one of our organizations to share our concerns and feelings about the response to AIDS through our chancelleries.
At the Forum, a topic which has been around in the region for more than five years and which is becoming increasingly evident was discussed: the withdrawal of the international cooperation sources from Latin America is a reality, as it is the “decreased level in priority” of the response to HIV in the global agenda. The message is clear: we have to look inward, to the national budgets, at local funding opportunities to find resources. And we have to look at the sides; at the struggles we should have paid attention to many years ago, when we were very busy implementing activities in our small development plot. We still can do it.