Opinion Piece Calls for Global Fund To ‘Broaden Mandate’, Focus More On Health System Strengthening

Devex: Opinion: The Global Fund needs to broaden its mandate
Samy Ahmar, head of health programs at Save the Children U.K.

“Reducing the global burden of three of the top infectious killers … is arguably one of the greatest ever achievements of the international community. The Global Fund has been at the forefront of this battle and has contributed massively to this extraordinary endeavor. … The problem is this: such an enormous shift toward issue-based funding has almost certainly happened at the expense of strengthening health systems’ ability to provide comprehensive care, respond to disease outbreaks, and produce a large and competent health workforce for all. We can’t know what would have happened in the fund’s absence, but it is reasonable to assume that part of this huge pool of resources has displaced or crowded out other financing mechanisms for low-income countries’ health systems. To be clear, some of the fund’s resources were directed towards strengthening health systems more broadly. … A great many of us believe this effort now needs rebalancing, at a time of rapidly changing global health needs: the rise of noncommunicable diseases, the increasing frequency of major outbreaks, the risks of a global pandemic, climate change, antimicrobial resistance, and the resurgence of old and newer infectious diseases. None of these major challenges can be met without much stronger, better funded, and more resilient health systems for all. … The time has come to broaden [the Global Fund’s] scope and mandate beyond HIV, malaria, and TB and make health system strengthening not a means to an end, but the end that justifies all means” (10/10).