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Global Fund ATM – Donor or Investor?

GBCHealth Private Sector Delegation to the Global Fund

The initial GBCHealth Latin American member’s event was very successful.  GBCHealth serves as an entry-point for collaboration with the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria while orchestrating the Private Sector Delegation (PSD) on the Global Fund Board of Directors. The PSD collectively enables co-investments and facilitation of other corporate engagement activities with GF’s recipients worldwide.  As a planned occurrence, the Global Fund meeting takes place after the GBCHealth meetings in Sao Paulo. 

As a Pfizer Global Health Fellow representing GBCHealth, I contributed to group discussion on various GF related topics.  It was a powerful experience to be part of this with so many dedicated and dynamic public health individuals engaged to help vulnerable populations around the globe. I was invited to participate in focus group sessions on maximizing impact for health outcomes related to AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (ATM). I participated in a breakout group to formulate ideas on how to strengthen strategic objectives/initiatives and planning as it related to the global health of women and children beyond ATM. I was able to blend advocacy for GBCHealth, my professional experiences and information learned while on my fellowship on women and girls, into these specific sessions to help strengthen the Global Fund’s ability to respond to women and children’s health issues (boys and girls included). Our group’s focus was mainly on the second strategic objective to maximize the impact of Global Fund investment beyond ATM for women and children and health systems.  Two initiatives proposed were to leverage the impact on maternal, newborn and child health (MDGs 4 &5) as well as focus investments and improve the alignment within health system strengthening (Strategy for GF).  

Donor vs. Investor?

There are amazing, passionate people in the non-government organization (NGO) space.  Each person has a very important global health focus  they are committed to and will strongly advocate for when presented with the opportunity.  This type of tenacity is almost required for those involved in global health.  There many great ideas, models, needs and opportunities in the realm of global health and health improvement but only so many resources (especially funding) to go around. The Global Fund is made up of a majority of developed government funding (historically US by far the largest donor) with growing support from the private sector that now comprises about 10% of funding.

While private sector delegates were in attendance, there were many more governments and implementing NGOs (i.e. non-foundation based) present at the meeting, exemplifying the global reach and impact these three diseases (ATM) have had on health.  Shortly after making this observation, I noticed the terminology used to describe private sector companies when a woman from an implementing NGO approached me after a session and asked, “Are you a donor?”  I was amazed by how potent this terminology was.  For me, it conjured images of being a blood donor to help someone in need but then made me understand that I am never really sure if my blood was actually used to help someone, if it expired unused, or worse - if it was discarded.  Metaphorically, I appreciated that a donation of blood is done with the intention of alleviating a health issue, but without the proper investment by the blood bank, the overall outcome may not be valuable at all.

An NGO representative argued early in the GF proceedings that private sector companies just need to increase their financial donations and that more private sector money would provide the solution to global health challenges.  One private sector delegate had aptly replied to this person: “If you just want money, go to a bank…if you want a committed partner, someone who will invest in your project, listen to the underlying needs, build a plan with sustainability in mind and strategically work together toward a successful outcome… then we should talk.”  This beautifully articulated the new breed of corporate social responsibility that is taking shape after years of learning static monetary donations do not effectively solve global health issues (regardless funding origin: private sector, foundation or government). 

Partnerships with integration of various stakeholders’ resources and competencies (not just money) demonstrate a sense of ownership and accountability for successful and sustainable results.  This type of partnership is needed to make an impact on complex global health problems. This highly salient point describes the fundamental change that is starting to be realized throughout the world in order to make impact on global health goals.  Engaged partners are ones that can create lasting positive impacts on global health outcomes.  To me, participating in this Global Health Fellows Program, one of the global health initiatives that Pfizer offers, means that Pfizer is actively participating in social responsibility for positive change by being a well-proportioned blend of a leader, a partner, an advocate, an expert, and an investor.

Incidentally, I answered the woman after the Global Fund session above with the reply… “No, I am a potential investor.” “Tchau” or “Goodbye” in Brazilian Portuguese

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