Delegates Demand that Global Fund should Prioritise Treatment
12th International Council of AIDS Service Organizations
Ouagadougou, December 2001

"We cannot talk about AIDS without medications. What is this Global Fund for if not for medications? What use is it to us?"

A delegate from Togo joined other angry audience members in asking this question of the presenters at a Community Forum meeting held at the 12th ICASA entitled 'UNGASS and the Global Fund Update.'

The Global Fund on AIDS, Malaria and TB will be launched officially next month. The Transitional Working Group has been convened to establish the Fund. On Tuesday afternoon, the 12th ICASA Community Forum ran a session to update the African conference delegates. As expected, it aroused strong, emotive and often angry responses from the audience:.

The session was chaired by Sophia Mukasa and Mamadou Seck. The chairs gave a history and overview of the process. Richard Burzynski from the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), who sits on the Global Fund Transitional Working Group, described the proposed structure of the Fund, the next steps including a meeting in Brussels on the 13th and 14th December, and ways civil society can get involved in the process and in advocacy.

Richard Wamimbi presented the example from Uganda where a special multi-sectoral committee has been set up to develop a proposal to present to the Global Fund. UGNASO, a network of Ugandan AIDS NGOs, has two seats on this transitional committee.

Although many pointed to the Ugandan effort as an example for other countries to follow, others were tired of all the talking and the non-responses to their questions. "Our questions are being ignored - we want to know if the Fund will provide medications for Africans." Delegates from France and West Africa were most vocal in demanding that the Fund be used to provide treatment.

An ACT UP Paris member challenged the presenters and the ICASO representative in particular. She stated that "the members of the Transitional Working Group (TWG) responsible for establishing the Global Fund and defining its objectives ... refuse to consider the purchase of treatment as a priority."

Other recurring issues included - What the country selection criteria would be for awarding Funds (according to HIV prevalence, poverty etc.)? How would the competition for funds between governments and NGOs be managed? Would existing or new initiatives be funded? How would rural and other marginalized organizations be involved in the process? Would the majority of the Fund be allocated to Africa where the majority of new infections occurred?

No one asked about the other constituencies - involving malaria and TB - and how their interests are being safeguarded.

Sophia Mukasa from TASO (also involved in the international Global Fund discussions) told the audience that there was a clause in the Fund that called for purchasing "commodities" including medications, although she did not know the proportion that would be allocated. Richard Burzynski added that the Fund would not solve all problems, that were still other funders beyond the Fund, and that determining the criteria for funding was very complicated and not finalised. But, he added, it is up to each country and organization "to do all we can to make it work."

The biggest contribution we can make, he said, is to participate in the process and advocate for the issues we considered most important - through working within our countries with national committees and through various forums including electronic forums such as Break-the-silence and AF-AIDS.

This was not enough for the delegates present. There was a appeal that this demand that medication provision be prioritised in the Fund, be presented at the upcoming Brussels TWG Meeting. To this end, a drafting committee was convened to create such a document. This was shared with delegates on Wednesday afternoon and is reproduced in the next posting.

One delegate told us after the session, "if indeed there are other funders looking at AIDS in Africa - then let them fund the other activities such as prevention, we want medications for all the diseases. We demand new meds for malaria and TB and access to meds for HIV."

To participate in the Break-the-Silence discussion on the Global Fund and access the various documents, you can visit the HDN website at

HDN Key Correspondent Team

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