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the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
19 February 2015

Global Fund News Flash


The Situation Room

In the West Wing of the White House in Washington D.C., the Situation Room is a nerve center for intelligence and security matters, fitted with high-tech communications. Created during the presidency of John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, the Situation Room provides decision-makers with a central place to handle crisis support when action needs be to taken quickly.

Global partners in the fight against TB established a weekly forum in 2013, and named it the TB Situation Room. It is where partners come together to wrestle with concerns associated with Global Fund supported TB programs across the world.

On a recent Friday afternoon, the partners convened at the WHO offices in Geneva with an urgent concern. A TB prevalence survey was recently completed in Ghana, the first in that country since 1957. The results were in, and they did not look good. TB prevalence in Ghana was three times higher than previously thought, said Tomas Hatem, the Global Fund’s Senior Fund Portfolio Manager for Ghana. The country needed much more funding for its TB response than available.

Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, was gathered with partners around a table and asking probing questions. She pointed to the need to come up with urgent and specific interventions. “When you face a dramatic situation, you need dramatic measures,” she said.

As the TB Situation Room has developed, so too has its inclination to take on more proactive and fewer reactive programs, said Malgosia Grzemska, Coordinator, Technical Support Coordination Global TB Programme at WHO. “We are different partners, and this is an excellent platform to have many players sitting around a table to see how they can provide the best technical assistance for countries to achieve high impact,” said Dr. Grzemska.

On that particular Friday, partners also looked at the issue of TB prevalence surveys globally, reviewing results of completed surveys, updates on ongoing surveys and also discussed ways to engage countries that were lagging behind. Surveys are a critical tool, Dr. Ditiu reiterated, to invest effectively against TB.

Dr. Ditiu says the TB Situation Room should keep buzzing with new thinking and direction. That requires partners to engage, take ownership and responsibility of relevant issues. The partnership – including WHO, USAID, the Stop TB Partnership, the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation and the Global Fund –provides technical guidance to countries on the application of funds and implementation of programs that will achieve impact.

“We come together, we listen to each other, and we gather critical input on how we can make effective and sustainable investments that can lead to greater impact on TB,” says Eliud Wandwalo, Senior Disease Coordinator TB, at the Global Fund. “In the Situation Room, we have a great space for constructive engagement.”


Saving Souls and Lives

With the charisma of a Southern pastor nurtured from 21 years on the pulpit in the United States, Reverend Gary Henderson comes across as a man with a distinct sense of purpose.

After two decades saving souls with United Methodist Church (UMC), he has brought the power of preaching and his cheery optimism to the cause of saving lives as the Executive Director of UMC’s Global Health Initiative, where he leads the Imagine No Malaria campaign.

Malaria treatment and prevention is a mission he cares deeply about. He grew up seeing the disease’s control activities in his home state of Mississippi in the 1960s. Those efforts, which included spraying to kill mosquitoes that carry malaria, eradicated the disease from his country. He sees repeating that feat in Africa as not just a possibility, but as a calling.

“What is good for the United States in terms of health, we believe as a church, is good for the rest of the world,” he says. “My constituents will settle for nothing less than the elimination of malaria.”

That malaria continues to kill so many children and numerous pregnant women just because they are poor is an injustice, Rev. Henderson says. As a boy growing up in Mississippi, he witnessed numerous injustices that gave him a motivation and commitment to pursue change.

One such instance was the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, a prominent civil rights leader. Evers was Rev. Henderson’s neighbor, so that killing was literally very close to home. “I remember hearing the gun shots that killed him,” he says. It and other events in the 1960s changed him. “They pushed me to do more, to be more.” He has carried that fire and inspiration with him in global health work, where he has made remarkable achievements in fundraising for the Imagine no Malaria campaign.

In five years, his organization has raised US$65 million in cash and pledges, well on its way to reaching a US$75 million goal they set at the founding of Imagine No Malaria. People have heeded the call, even in unexpected venues.

“I never ask for money on a plane,” he says. “But I have more stories than I can tell of people pressing money into my hands whenever I tell the malaria story.”

UMC contributes half the funds raised from its Imagine No Malaria campaign to the Global Fund, and between 2011 and 2013 that added up to US$6.4 million. The 2014 contribution of $2.1 million takes its total contribution so far to US$8.5 million. Rev. Henderson sees UMC’s response to malaria as an entry point to far-reaching global health work for the 12 million members of UMC. “How do you eat an elephant?” he asks. “One bite at a time.”


A Space for Ideas

As a partnership that aspires to evolve constantly to achieve greater impact against diseases, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has established a platform for innovation. Called the Innovation Hub, the platform will drive fresh thinking to impact communities affected by HIV, tuberculosis and malaria as well as contribute to the global development agenda.

The Hub will explore ways of developing partnerships and public goods to support long-term sustainability of health investments. It will strive to design differentiated approaches to investments in diverse environments. Such strategies are critically needed to drive impact now and in the future.

“We are actively engaged in discerning answers to questions that will guide our evolution.” said Mark Dybul, the Executive Director of the Global Fund. “The Innovation Hub will draw the best from every sector – from high-tech entrepreneurs work to operational interventions at the community level – for innovative ideas as we strive to achieve as much impact as possible.”

The Hub will achieve its purpose by engaging and galvanising partners to identify, test and promote innovations across Global Fund grants and beyond. To begin with, it will work across the three areas of procurement and supply chains, financial and risk management, and program quality. It will seek to find new ways to address supply chain inefficiencies.

Together with private sector partners, it will explore ways to identify and create interventions that will address risk to investments as well as build sustainable programs. Using technology, it will seek to identify data-driven approaches that can deliver high quality service to people affected by diseases down to the site level.

The platform will also support the scaling up of these best practices at service delivery sites for use at district, national and international levels. Essentially, the innovation hub will work with partners from the private sector, academia, civil society and public sector for specific skill sets and expertise needed to advance site-level programs. Partners will contribute to business cases, utilizing their core expertise to increase impact in global health even as they seek to achieve their own organizational objectives.

Ultimately, through the innovation hub, partners will harness great ideas, expertise and experiences to develop public goods that are transformative to the lives of people affected by diseases.

Copyright © 2015 The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, All rights reserved.

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