Global Fund Grant must be used efficiently – Dr Phaahla

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, has committed to checking on the Global Fund Grant to ensure that it is implemented in a quality manner and that the country utilises the funding received efficiently.

Phaahla said this on Thursday in Pretoria while officiating the signing of the new Global Fund grant valued over R8.8 billion for the next three-year cycle for the country’s response to HIV and tuberculosis (TB).

“I urge our implementers to make South Africa proud and utilise the money accountably and effectively ensure that services are reaching the communities in need.

“I am excited for the new funding and promise to check in on the grant to ensure [that] we are implementing in a quality manner and absorbing funds effectively,” the Minister said.

He said that the country is grateful for the partnership it has forged with Global Fund since 2003.

To date this partnership has seen South Africa receiving around US$1.3 billion to fight HIV, TB and Malaria. This, he said, is strengthening the country’s efforts towards meeting the 2030 Sustainable Goals.

“I would like to thank the Global Fund for increasing the funding allocation for South Africa from US$ 369 million in 2019-2022 to US$ 546 million for the period 2022-2025. South Africa appreciates this continuous support.”

The allocated funds include the matching funds of US$10 million and will support activities to be implemented through the AIDS Foundation of South Africa, Beyond Zero, NACOSA and the National Department of Health as principal recipients.

Responding to the recent findings of South Africa’s first TB prevalence survey which showed a TB burden about twice as high as was previously estimated, the Minister said that a surge investment has been prioritised for TB interventions. He extended his gratitude to Global Fund for responding vividly to the COVID pandemic, through grant flexibilities.

He said that this is also through dedicated COVID funds that the Global Fund allocated from 2020 including the recently approved fast-track -all amounting to a total of US$ 238 million.

“The COVID-19 Response funding is contributing significantly to limit interruptions in delivery of TB and HIV services,” he said.

Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM)

Speaking about SA’s Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), Phaahla said that it ensured a robust consultation process which ensured, every province; key population; beneficiaries; constituency; sector had a say in what goes in the funding proposal.

The CCM consulted more than 35 entities and over 2000 individuals to inform the funding proposal.

“This was indeed a proposal for the country.

“Our CCM has been made lean and effective through the evolution process. Our current CCM has managed to prioritise the transformation agenda, about 400 community-based organisations will be empowered and trained to be able to implement our programmes, and 200 of them will be trusted with a small grant,” he said.

The CCM particularly developed the Sub-Recipient Selection Manual, which promotes implementation through community-based organisations and balances with performance of implementers to ensure the grant is successful. 

“The approval of this proposal ushers in innovation for the country. We will explore inclusion of Key Populations One Stop Shop in Mangaung, West Rand and Francis Baard, to include intersectionality of Key Populations and tailor made clinical and psychosocial services.”

Phaahla also noted an inclusion of a new program that supports the establishment of community-led networks for former inmates; cervical cancer to prevent and treat cervical cancer among high-risk women and girls. He also noted a telemedicine (e.g. virtual consults) and an e-pharmacy service which will be implemented especially for clandestine men who have sex with men but also open to all key and vulnerable populations. 

He expressed commitment to ensure that the country makes the best use of these optimised resources.

“We will increase our efforts to quickly implement our programmes in HIV and TB to recover some gains which were reversed due to COVID-19. We will continue to maximise the use of our resources through efficiency measures and further streamline implementation processes and ensure we utilise the funding received efficiently. We want to ensure we make an impact on HIV and TB by finding the missing patients and putting them on treatment.”

In the last few weeks, South Africa has been interacting with the Global Fund in preparation processes for the next Global Fund Replenish.

He said that at least US$18 billion is needed to replenish the Global Fund and South Africa aims to honour its commitment towards the replenishment. He urged all other countries to honour their commitments.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Co-Chair of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), Steve Letsike, said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa drew lessons from the HIV and TB programmes to adapt using community-based and community-led systems.

Letsike said that the Global Fund was also generous enough to disperse additional financial resources to aid the country in ensuring that it does not further compromise gains made against HIV and TB. 

“Today we are here to celebrate yet more resources that will ensure that such responses continue and fight to reclaim the gains made despite the continued threat now posed by a myriad of factors, such as climate change for example.

“The world is changing as we need to adapt. The pandemic also continues to test our health and social emergency readiness and responsiveness,” said Letsike adding that it is at times like these, that the resilience of South Africa as a nation shines through.

South Africa has been a contributor to the Global Fund since 2001 and has contributed over US$22.65 million to the Global Fund to date.

Letsike said that the Global Fund’s unique partnership approach leverages the expertise of other organisations and agencies, its comprehensive engagement of communities most affected by HIV and TB, and its country-led funding model is what sets the fund apart, making it responsive, adaptable, and highly effective.

“We have seen this result in strong partnerships with communities, civil society, governments, the private sector, and donors, making it a global health leader alongside the country.

“We hope to continue on this trajectory as we embark on this new chapter where we shall continue to fight, laugh, smile, cry and hold each other accountable as we achieve the best results towards an HIV, TB, Stigma, GBV free South Africa,” she said. –