Global Fund: Learning from Concept Notes
The first ten concept notes in the new funding model were reviewed by the Technical Review Panel in June, an independent assessment of the viability of each funding application.
The panel – composed of experts in HIV, tuberculosis and malaria and in cross-cutting development issues – found some excellent applications, and others that needed more work. Some applicants were asked to make specific improvements and changes, and then submit another iteration of their application, in order to meet the standard for approval.
One of the advantages in the new funding model is the scope for feedback and revision, so that an application deemed not yet ready can be revised, and not rejected. In its first year of full implementation, the new funding model is not perfect, and will require openness on all sides to learn along the way.
As other applicants prepare their own concept notes, they may benefit from considering highlights and suggestions made by the panel, commonly known as the TRP, about what they are looking for in a concept note. An official report is scheduled for mid-July, but here is an advance summary of key recommendations made by the TRP:
Above all, the TRP looks for a clear explanation of priorities in each concept note. Strategic choices, based on evidence and national plans, are also strengthened when they draw on sub-national and sub-population epidemiological data.
Focus on interventions in specific regions and among specific populations, with funding aimed at reaching key populations or regions with highest prevalence, incidence or population at risk, is also important.
Two: Requests above allocation
Requests for funding that reach above a country’s allocation amount will be more effective when described separately in a concept note. A central element of the new funding model is moving to an allocation model where each country is informed of an amount of potential available funding.
Those countries that want to apply for an amount above the allocation should justify the request for additional interventions beyond the minimum level, such as expanding geographic coverage or expanding services. It should also rank choices with corresponding budgets and expected impact.
Special cases can be considered. It is possible that funding for those activities may be done through incentive funding, if the country is eligible, or through the register of unfunded quality demand.
Three: Health Systems Strengthening
The TRP strongly encourages applicants to commit to and weave efforts to boost health systems strengthening into their concept notes.
Ideally, Country Coordinating Mechanisms should use cross-cutting HSS interventions in more than one of the diseases to help maximize impact and they should make that connection clear in the concept note. Eligible countries are encouraged to set aside funding during the program split discussion for cross-cutting HSS, if the country has that need.
Four: Learning from previous Global Fund investments
Concept notes are stronger when applicants include an explanation of the impact of previous programs, and – most important – how lessons learned from those programs were used to reshape future investments.
Five: Concept notes should cover the period to the end of 2017
The current allocation period lasts from 2014 through 2016. However, since many concept notes will lead to grants that do not begin until 2015, many grants will last three years, from 2015 through the end of 2017.
In some cases, a CCM can discuss and get approval for a shortened grant duration of between two and three years. In those cases, the concept note should explain where funding will come from to cover the period until the end of 2017.
There are advantages to flexibility in timing, since conditions vary from country to country and disease to disease. Yet making exceptions to a three-year grant structure may require extra justification and planning.
Source: Global Fund News Flash Issue: 44
Date: 3 July 2014