Category Archives: News

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:


One: Priority-setting

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


AIDS conference attendees remember 6 who died on MH17


MELBOURNE, Australia — Organizers and attendees at the world's largest AIDS conference said six colleagues who died in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 would want them to continue the fight against this deadly disease.


The six delegates, who died Thursday, were to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference here. Noted AIDS researcher Joep Lange, an internist and professor of infectious diseases at the University of Amsterdam, was among those who died. They were remembered during the opening ceremony Sunday.


"This is not a time for silence," said Michael Kirby, former judge of the High Court of Australia. "They would expect us to pick up our shattered spirits. They would demand that we renew and redouble our efforts."


Kirby spoke of his friends and noted he had left Amsterdam only days earlier on another flight. He delivered the Jonathan Mann Memorial Lecture, named after the first director of the Global Program on AIDS of the World Health Organization, who was killed in a plane crash in 1998 en route to another AIDS conference.


Hundreds gathered for the opening ceremony on a cold night in Melbourne prior to the official opening Monday morning. Twelve thousand delegates from 200 nations make up the week-long conference, the largest AIDS conference in the world.


The conference paid tribute with a minute of silence and a number of speeches, including a video from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Dutch ambassador for HIV/AIDS, Lambert Grijns, also made a speech, noting that five of the six dead delegates were Dutch nationals.


Several of those speaking, such as International AIDS Society president Francoise Barré-Sinoussi, became emotional as they spoke of their lost colleagues and friends. However despite the sadness many obviously felt, organizers said it was important that the event was a tribute to those lost and that if anything their fight against AIDS would be redoubled in light of tragedy.


At a press conference prior to the opening ceremony, International AIDS Society president-elect (who will take over the presidency from Barré-Sinoussi at the end of the conference) Chris Beyrer said it had been a "long and very emotional 48 hours … (We are) ready and determined to make it a success."


United Nations AIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé pledged that the world would, with work, have conquered the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and noted that there had been "extraordinary progress since Washington (conference in 2012). More has been done in the last three years than the last 25 years … 5.6 million more are receiving treatment."


By Helen Clark

20 July 2014


AAI Offers Condolences.

AAI wishes to offer our deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of our fellow HIV and AIDS activists, whom we lost on flight MH 17.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead


Zuma Press

Aids conference says 100 researchers may have been on board crashed plane.

Session held ahead of Aids 2014 conference told email exchanges show about 100 attendees booked on flight MH17.

As many as 100 of the world’s leading HIV/Aids researchers and advocates may have been on the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in Ukraine, in what has been described as a “devastating” blow to efforts to tackle the virus.

Delegates to a plenary session held ahead of the Aids 2014 conference were told that email exchanges showed about 100 attendees were booked on the MH17 flight. The plane was downed in eastern Ukraine by what the US and Australian governments have described as a surface-to-air missile.

There was no official confirmation of the number of researchers on board.

There were no survivors among the 298 people on the flight, which was bound for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam. The Aids 2014 conference, due to start on Sunday, is being held in Melbourne.

“There’s a huge feeling of sadness here, people are in floods of tears in the corridors,” Clive Aspin, a veteran HIV researcher who attended the pre-conference plenary session in Sydney, told Guardian Australia. “These people were the best and the brightest, the ones who had dedicated their whole careers to fighting this terrible virus. It’s devastating.”

Prof. Richard Boyd, director of the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories, told Guardian Australia he was "gutted" by the losses.


"There were some serious HIV leaders on that plane," he said. "This will have ramifications globally because whenever you lose a leader in any field, it has an impact. That knowledge is irreplaceable.


"We've lost global leaders and also some bright young people who were coming through. It's a gut-wrenching loss. I was involved in the aftermath of 9/11 in New York and it brings back that level of catastrophe.

"But the Aids community is very close-knit, like a family. They will unite and this will galvanise people to strive harder to find a breakthrough. Let's hope that, out of this madness, there will be new hope for the world."

Trevor Stratton, an HIV/Aids consultant, told the ABC: “The cure for AIDS may have been on that plane, we just don’t know. You can’t just help but wonder about the kind of expertise on that plane.”

A number of leading scientists, including a former president of the International AIDS Society (IAS) who has led HIV research efforts since 1983, are believed to be among the dead.

Organisers of Aids 2014, which is set to welcome about 14,000 delegates from around the world, said they were unable to officially confirm the number of people on MH17 who were due to attend the conference. The organisation said in a statement: “The IAS is hearing unconfirmed reports that some of our friends and colleagues were on board the flight and if that is the case this is truly a sad day.”

The president of the IAS, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, told a prearranged event in Canberra that the deaths “will be a great loss to the HIV/Aids communities. If confirmed, it would be a terrible loss for all of us. I have no words really to try to express my sadness; I feel totally devastated if it is confirmed.”

IAS said the conference would go ahead as scheduled. Former US president Bill Clinton and activist Bob Geldof are due to speak.

The executive director of the Australian Federation of Aids Organisations, Rob Lake, said: "This morning's news is absolutely tragic and will be felt throughout the conference and worldwide.

“The people we have lost have played critical roles in the global fight against HIV.”

18 July 2014

By Oliver Milman


Africa: Can the New African Court Truly Deliver Justice for Serious Crimes?


As atrocities continue to be committed across Africa, the continent's leaders seem more concerned with their own fate before international courts than a rigorous pursuit of justice for these crimes.

It is hard to fathom that in 2014, commitments to end impunity are under threat by African leaders even though the continent has been ravaged by serious crimes for decades and the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) rejects impunity.

In adopting the draft protocol of the proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights (African Court) at the recent AU Summit in Equatorial Guinea, African leaders have signed off on the establishment of a new court that will provide immunity from prosecution to serving heads of state and senior government officials for a range of serious crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide ('international crimes').

The adopted amendment to Article 46A of the protocol now reads, 'No charges shall be commenced or continued before the Court against any serving African Union Head of State or Government, or anybody acting or entitled to act in such a capacity, or other senior states officials based on their function, during their tenure of office.'

The decision to entrench immunity for heads of state and senior officials was agreed to despite African and international civil society cautioning against it. African leaders had previously taken the immunity debate to the international level during the 12th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in November 2013.

African states parties to the ICC tabled a proposal on behalf of the AU for the Rome Statute to be amended to exclude sitting heads of state from prosecution for international crimes.

The ASP rejected this proposal, although indications are that the same proposal is likely to be tabled again at the December 2014 ASP. This determination to exempt serving heads of state from prosecution for the gravest crimes known to mankind is highly concerning for supporters of international justice.

Discussions in Africa relating to immunity for heads of state who are wanted for international crimes began in 2006, when France and Spain issued arrest warrants against high-ranking Rwandan government officials, which provoked strong protests from Rwanda and the AU.

The cases at the ICC of President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, have reignited the debate. These concerns no doubt informed the AU's decision to mandate its Commission in 2009 to consider the possibility of expanding the jurisdiction of the yet-to-be-established African Court to also try international crimes.

It is against this backdrop that the new African Court protocol must be viewed.

Another problem with the immunity provision in the protocol is that it extends beyond heads of state to include 'senior government officials.' Who exactly qualifies as a senior government official would be decided based on their functions during their tenure, on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with international law.

This definition is imprecise and potentially offers immunity from prosecution to a wide range of officials.

The potential threat that this spells for the protection of human rights in Africa cannot be overstated. Granting immunity offers free rein to senior officials and heads of state to perpetrate such crimes, and is likely to motivate them to cling to their official positions to avoid prosecution.

Even more worrisome is that this has taken place at a time when atrocities continue in countries such as South Sudan and the Central African Republic. The immunity provision flouts international law and is contrary to the national laws of African states like Kenya and South Africa. It goes against the very essence of promoting human rights, peace and stability, and presents a major setback to advancing democracy and the rule of law.

Africa has extensive accountability mechanisms at the national and regional levels, and many countries have acceded to international legal treaties that promote accountability. An African Court that can try serious crimes is another positive step for the continent. However, the protocol that was adopted at the AU summit in Malabo provides a protective veil that denies justice for victims, and is detrimental to accountability.

Can the African Court truly protect Africans against grave crimes and human rights abuses while it provides such immunity? Considering the progress made in bringing those responsible for gross crimes to justice, African states are urged to reconsider the proposed amendments before ratifying the protocol.

For the African Court to begin its work, the protocol must be ratified by 15 AU states, which means there is still an opportunity for governments to reconsider. To echo the words of the president of Botswana, heads of state need to ask themselves whether they want to be on the wrong side of history by opposing the arrest of prominent persons accused of serious crimes.

African leaders have the moral authority and responsibility to ensure that neither they nor any other person who perpetuates such crimes goes unpunished. In this way, they will demonstrate their commitment towards ensuring accountability through African solutions, including a reformed regional tribunal that serves justice for all Africans.

By Jemima Njeri Kariri

8 July 2014


Urban population boom poses massive challenges for Africa and Asia

The UN predicts that two-thirds of the world will live in cities by 2050, with 90% of growth taking place in the global south


Two-thirds of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, posing unique infrastructural challenges for African and Asian countries, where 90% of the growth is predicted to take place.

The planet's urban population – which overtook the number of rural residents in 2010 – is likely to rise by about 2.5 billion to more than 6 billion people in less than 40 years, according to a UN report. Africa and Asia "will face numerous challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy and employment, as well as for basic services such as education and healthcare", it adds.

Future development targets should focus on creating inclusive cities with adequate infrastructure and services for all residents, said John Wilmoth, director of the UN's population division. "Managing urban areas has become one of the most important development challenges of the 21st century," he said. "Our success or failure in building sustainable cities will be a major factor in the success of the post-2015 UN development agenda."

The report says rapid urbanisation will bring opportunities for governments to improve access to important services. "Providing public transportation, as well as housing, electricity, water and sanitation for a densely settled population is typically cheaper and less environmentally damaging than providing a similar level of services to a predominantly rural household," it says.

Africa is projected to experience a 16% rise in its urban population by 2050 – making it the most rapidly urbanising region on the planet – as the number of people living in its cities soars to 56%.

The report predicts there will be more than 40 megacities worldwide by 2050,each with a population of at least 10 million. Delhi, Shanghai and Tokyo are predicted to remain the world's most populous cities in 2030, when each is projected to be home to more than 30 million people.

"Several decades ago most of the world's largest urban agglomerations were found in the more developed regions, but today's large cities are concentrated in the global south," the UN says. "The fastest growing urban agglomerations are medium-sized cities and cities with fewer than 1 million inhabitants, located in Asia and Africa."

The world's 3.4 billion-strong rural population will start to decline as urbanisation becomes more common, the report says. The UN projects that rural populations will increase in only a third of countries between 2014 and 2050, as states with large rural communities will take longer to urbanise. "In general, the pace of urbanisation tends to slow down as a population becomes more urbanised," the report says.

The UN cautions that sustainable urbanisation requires cities to generate better income and employment opportunities, and "expand the necessary infrastructure for water and sanitation, energy, transportation, information and communications; ensure equal access to services; reduce the number of people living in slums; and preserve the natural assets within the city and surrounding areas".

Urbanisation has historically taken place in wealthy countries, but such expansion is now happening most rapidly in upper-middle-income countries, where gross national income per capita is between $1,046 and $4,125.


Post-2015 Agenda: Organized Chaos or Hot Mess?

Sexual and Reproductive Health in Trouble as Goals Move Forward 

UN flag on Crumpled paper texture

The latest version of the zero draft report from the Open Working Group developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hit the internet late Monday evening. This is the final draft that member states will have a chance to respond to before the final report is produced and shared with the Secretary General prior to the United Nations General Assembly in September. It is fairly similar to the last draft in that it still has the same 17 goals, with small semantic differences. Overall, there are fewer targets, but both the targets and the process are becoming increasingly convoluted.


This draft misses the integration, aspiration, transformation and sustainability that were meant to drive the post-2015 agenda.  We see important targets missing in this lengthy draft, but we have yet to really see the difficult trade-offs that a final set of implementable goals would require.


How have sexual and reproductive health and rights fared?


Sexual and reproductive health has disappeared from the Health Goal. While a target on sexual and reproductive health was previously included under both the Health and Gender goals, it now only appears under the Gender goal as “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights in accordance with the Programme of Action of the ICPD and the Beijing Platform for Action.” This is problematic for two reasons:


1.    Without SRH under the health goal, family planning is in jeopardy of not being recognized in this new development framework. SRHR is a major component of overall health not only for women and girls, but also for men and boys. It is therefore critical to be included within a discussion of health.


2.    The qualifier of ICPD and Beijing is unnecessary and weakens the human rights frame of the target. Nowhere else in the Open Working Group’s draft document is such a caveat introduced. As such, it undermines the principle of arriving at a forward-looking set of SDGs. There is no need to qualify universal access to sexual and reproductive health or reproductive rights. With a reference to ICPD and Beijing already in the introduction, we hope to see this qualifier removed.


What are other notable points?


  • It is good to see that in proposed Goal 6  (Ensure availability and sustainable use of water and sanitation for all), the following target remained: “By 2030, achieve adequate sanitation and hygiene for all, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls.” This is critical to mainstreamed access to reproductive health.
  • Comprehensive sexuality education also remains absent from the latest document and should be inserted, ideally under the education goal.
  • Equity has been and will continue to be a prevailing narrative in the post-2015 agenda.


What’s next?


In New York for the Open Working Group session last week, you could see will, desire, and investment on the faces of delegates, civil society, co-chairs. But you could also see the fatigue. This has been a long and intensive exercise that has lasted nearly two years already. Now is the time point to put words down on paper and respond to drafts in order to rescue the jumbled mess that the draft goals have become.


The final round of informal discussions by the Open Working Group takes place July 14 to 18. The co-chairs (from Kenya and Hungary) will incorporate this final feedback from member states into a final report submitted to the Secretary General in August. A report will simultaneously be submitted by the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing. The Secretary General will then take these inputs, among others, and produce his own report, and full negotiations are expected to start in January 2015. The co-chairs of the post-2015 summit (September 21 to 23) are Denmark and Papua New Guinea.


By A. Tianna Scozzaro, Population and Climate Associate - 

3 July 2014


Afghan women demand accountability around election


from Women’s Councils and Civil Society Organizations Calling for

Swift and Peaceful Resolution to the Election Gridlock


We, leaders of women’s councils and civil society organizations from 34 provinces of Afghanistan, come together to raise our collective call for immediate and peaceful resolution to the election gridlock that was created by the alleged cheating in favor of presidential candidate Asraf Ghani-Ahmadzai. 

The prolonged lack of clarity on how the issues would be resolved has been causing anxiety and polarization among our people, both along political and ethnic lines.  We therefore ask the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to immediately and continuously apprise the public on the actions being taken to address the cheating allegations and stop the worsening antipathy between the two presidential contenders and their followers. The IEC should admonish both parties to refrain from any actions that would aggravate the volatility of the situation. 

Furthermore, all efforts should be taken to ensure that the scheduled announcement of the election winner is done expeditiously. However, we would rather have a late announcement than receive a timely result that is tainted with irregularities. Thus, we support a thorough audit of the canvassing results, especially in the provinces afflicted by alleged wrongdoings.


To the next President of Afghanistan, we pin our hopes on you. We urge you to put priority on the following concerns in your governance agenda:

a)     National reconciliation and unity – Reach out to as many sectors of the population as possible and enjoin them to rise above the negativities of the past election. The sooner healing and reconciliation are started, the faster we could start to confront the many challenges that have been without action for years;

b)     Women’s empowerment and human rights – Clarify your strategy for promoting the status of women, including the strict implementation of the anti-EVAW decree; the thorough assessment of the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan and other national commitments on gender equality; and the re-education of society towards a culture that is respectful of women’s rights, contributions and potentials; 

c)      Engagement of civil society – Strengthen the roles of the civil society in governance affairs and support the strengthening of organizations of the minorities and disadvantaged sectors especially the widows, disabled, internally displaced people, released prisoners, victims of natural disasters and armed fighting, and the poorest among the poor;

d)     Mining sector – Accelerate the development of the mining sector to achieve sustained economic growth and self-sufficiency.  Create a multi-sector body to prevent corruption and misuse of the proceeds of the mining sector and ensure that mining ventures are done with appropriate attention to their potential negative impacts to the environment; and

e)     Peace – Assess the impacts of the existing framework for national peace and reintegration, especially with the Taliban, towards ensuring that it is not done at the expense of justice, and returnees are mandatorily subjected to de-radicalization process.  

We put so much hope in the election and worked hard to enjoin our citizens to cast their vote, believing in the promise of a better life that both candidates committed to deliver to the Afghan nation.   The time to see the fulfillment of those promises begins now and we trust that our new President will not fail us this time.

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UN warns some MDG targets may be missed


There is a risk that Millennium Development Goals aimed at improving child and maternal mortality and expanding access to sanitation will be missed, the United Nations has warned.


With a little over a year to go to ensure the eight MDG targets are met, the UN this week issued a progress report, which showed that goals on poverty reduction, improving drinking water sources, improving the lives of slum dwellers and achieving gender parity in primary schools had already been met.


Progress was also being made on MDGs covering hunger, debt relief and malaria, tuberculosis and HIV treatment.


‘However, some MDG targets related to largely preventable problems with available solutions, such as reducing child and maternal mortality and increasing access to sanitation, are slipping away from achievement by 2015, despite major progress,’ the UN said.


‘The report calls on all stakeholders to focus and intensify efforts on the areas where advances have been too slow or not reached all.’


More reliable statistics were needed for monitoring development, the report said. It noted that the number of member states submitting progress reports on HIV/Aids increased from 102 in 2004 to 186 in 2012, helping galavanise global efforts. Funding for HIV programmes more than tripled in this period and 9.5 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral treatment in 2012.


UN member states are currently considering a new set of development goals that can replace the MDGs in 2015. These are likely to be agreed in September next year.


UN secretary general Ban-Ki Moon said: ‘Our efforts to achieve the MDGs are critical to building a solid foundation for development beyond 2015. At the same time, we must aim for a strong successor framework to attend to unfinished business and address areas not covered by the eight MDGs.


‘Tackling growing inequality, in rich and poor countries alike, has become the defining challenges of our times. Our post-2015 objectives must be to leave no one behind.’

By Vivienne Russell

9 July 2014


Africa: Ban Urges Focus On Adolescent Girls to Reduce Maternal Mortality

Banki mun

To triumph over maternal mortality, initiatives must focus on adolescent girls, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said, ones that allow them to go to school, marry whom they choose, shield them from harmful traditional practices and provide them with appropriate family planning services.

"When an adolescent girl is safe from harm and able to choose when to bear children, she can be saved from HIV infection, haemorrhage, obstetric complications such as obstructed labour and fistula, and death," Mr. Ban told an audience in Nairobi, Kenya, at an event on ending maternal mortality.

Reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters and providing universal access to reproductive health by 2015 has been one of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the slowest progress.

"Even though we have seen advances in recent years, too many women still die in childbirth or from complications related to pregnancy," Mr. Ban said. "Most of these deaths are preventable."

He noted that "a little investment in simple solutions", which can range from basic midwife training for women in villages to motorcycle ambulances in remote rural areas, can go a long way.

"Women need a safe environment to deliver with the assistance of skilled birth attendants," the Secretary-General said.

The Every Woman Every Child initiative, which he launched in 2010 for this reason, is a global effort to mobilize and intensify global action to save the lives of 16 million women and children and improve the lives of millions more.

Also in his speech, Mr. Ban highlighted the impact of harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation, on the lives of adolescent girls. Some 20 per cent of girls in Kenya are cut in this "barbaric practice", Mr. Ban said, while the proportion in Somalia is close to 98 per cent.

"African governments are united in opposing female genital mutilation, and the United Nations is giving priority to helping all communities abandon this practice," he said.

His audience included Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta, First Lady of Kenya, who in January launched the 'Beyond Zero Campaign' to accelerate the implementation of Kenya's national plan towards improving maternal and newborns' lives, including through the elimination of new HIV infections among children in Kenya.

Mr. Ban said the UN has said it fully supports the Kenyan efforts, which include free maternity services, and which can serve as a "role model for the rest of Africa".

Also today, Mr. Ban met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in Nairobi. He expressed solidarity with the people of Kenya in light of recent terrorist incidents, and his confidence in Mr. Kenyatta's leadership in maintaining national unity in the face of the security challenges.

The two leaders also discussed issues of regional peace and security, including the situations in Somalia in South Sudan where Kenya is helping to create sustainable peace, according to a UN spokesperson.

Mr. Ban also praised Kenya's rule in utilizing renewable energy sources, and discussed the new sustainable development agenda to follow the MDGs after 2015.

28 June 2014