Opening speech by Andris Piebalgs at the Global Fund conference
Type: Complete speech
End production: 09/04/2013 First transmission: 09/04/2013
On 9 April 2013, Andris Piebalgs, Member of the EC in charge of Development, took part at the Global Fund Conference in Brussels. On this occasion, the Commissioner delivered a speech entitled "Increasing global resources to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria".
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General view of the conference
||Soundbite by Andris Piebalgs, Member of the EC in charge of Development (in ENGLISH): Let me begin by welcoming you all to Brussels for this preparatory meeting for the replenishment of the Global Fund. It is truly wonderful to see that so many of you here. I'm glad you've made the journey here, because we have some very important business to attend to.
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has achieved impressive results in limiting the spread of these three pandemics. The European Commission is proud to have been associated with the Global Fund ever since it was founded 12 years ago, in 2001. Since then the Commission has contributed more than 1.1 billion euro to the Global Fund from the common EU budget and from the European Development Fund to which all EU Member States contribute.
We are here for two very good reasons: to assess the fund's impact on people in poor countries; and to review the progress made on reforms.
In order to increase the impact of Global Fund financing further, while better managing the risks to which it is exposed by the challenging environments in which it invests, the Global Fund has undertaken major reforms over the past year to refocus on the core business of grants management.
On top of that, the Board has endorsed a new funding model that targets resources more to those countries most in need and least able to provide the necessary interventions alone. It also aligns the funding more closely to national priorities, plans and management cycles.
We need to be prepared to combat HIV, TB, and malaria over the long term and the Global Fund is an important tool to do so. However, the culture needs to shift from emergency response to sustainability. The medium-term goal is the integration of the response to these three diseases into existing national and international systems, particularly in sustainable, comprehensive and nationally owned strategies. The new funding model will be an important enabler for such a process.
Broadening the donor base and involving the private sector
When it comes to further increasing the global resources to fight poverty-related diseases, the time has certainly come for us to step up our efforts to leverage additional resources and broaden the donor base of the Global Fund. To this end, we should be calling on other donors such as the private sector and emerging donors to scale up their contributions.
One of the founding principles of the Global Fund as a public-private partnership was that contributions from traditional public donors could leverage additional contributions from new public donors and the private sector. This was the novelty of the Global Fund and the basis for its being able to attract such impressive support from most traditional donors.
There is no doubt that the private sector's close involvement in the fund from the very outset has had an impressive impact in terms of controlling AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. It has led to impressive reductions in pricing and contributed to more effective delivery mechanisms to supply the poorest people in the world with much-needed health products – everything from drugs to bed nets.
However, with the notable exception of the Gates Foundation, private sector cash contributions to match this involvement have not yet materialised.
||Soundbite by Andris Piebalgs (in ENGLISH): I raised these issues last night at a meeting with high-level representatives from the private sector. I also told them that investing in the Global Fund would make sense for many reasons, and encouraged them to come on board to make the fund the truly unique public-private partnership it was designed to be.
As for non-traditional donors, I value the recent additional pledge of Saudi-Arabia and other new donors to the Global Fund. But I would also like to applaud those countries that are taking over the financing of their disease programmes when Global Fund grants run out – the People’s Republic of China being among them. Not all additional financing for the three diseases needs to pass through the Global Fund. If countries step up investments in their own health system or assist other countries through other means than the Global Fund, this should find our appreciation as well.
The Global Fund was a great response to a global emergency. That emergency is now, thankfully, over, and controlling the three diseases may be possible.
The number of people dying of AIDS-related causes fell to 1.7 million in 2011, down from a peak of 2.2 million in the mid-2000s. But 1.7 million deaths are still far too many.
In 2011, 1.4 million people died from TB, with Africa recording the highest per capita death rate. Multidrug-resistant TB poses a major threat, with an estimated 630 000 people in the world suffering from this form of TB today.
In 2010, there were 106 malaria-endemic countries and approximately 3.3 billion people at risk of infection worldwide. Ninety-one per cent of malaria deaths globally were in Africa; 86 per cent were of children under 5.
These shocking statistics show in stark terms that we are by no means near the end of our journey: we are all in it for the long haul. We will need sustained commitments to the Global Fund – commitments which the European Commission is prepared to offer, despite the challenges we face in raising money in these testing times.
But if we are to make the replenishment of the Fund a success, we need to look at reviving the initial idea of leveraging traditional with other contributions and vice versa. Greater contributions from the private sector and emerging economies will make it far easier for us to make the case to traditional donors for continued funding.
And we do this with greater confidence now that we have a Global Fund that is back on track. The Commission has been closely involved in the governance of the Global Fund and we are very supportive of the latest reforms.
When the detection of misuse of funds exposed underlying weaknesses in financial management and control, I suspended payments in January 2011 to safeguard taxpayers’ money and made sure that the Commission was closely involved in introducing the fundamental reforms needed to remedy the situation. As a result the Global Fund secretariat has been reorganised to make it more efficient, better at grant management and more focused on its core task as a financing institution. And – last but not least – the new funding model will ensure that Global Fund support is much more aligned with country processes and priorities, very much in line with the EU commitments on aid effectiveness. In short, the Fund is now fit for purpose; the new business model and the secretariat managing it have my full support. The course is clear for replenishment.
||Soundbite by Andris Piebalgs (in ENGLISH): The Commission will fully honour its pledge of 330 million euro for the current pledging period, running from 2011 to 2013. I will decide on the Commission pledge for the next replenishment later this year, once we know more about the prospects for the next EU budget, to take us from 2014 through to 2020. That decision will have to depend on the overall budget amount and the agreement we reach with our Member States and the European Parliament. Naturally we would all like to see an increase in the EU’s development budget. But even if we have to live with a lower budget than expected, we are aware of the huge benefits the Global Fund brings and I can assure you here and now that it will remain an important instrument for the EU in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in poor countries. That’s why I will do my best to ensure that, at the very least, EU support for the Global Fund managed by the Commission remains at the current levels.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I urge you to make a similar effort. We are living in difficult economic times; uncertain times. That being so, I believe we owe it to our recipient countries to ensure that our funding is as predictable as possible. Such predictability is in our interests, too, because it serves the goal I mentioned earlier of moving away from emergency responses towards sustainability.
With a new business model and a new leadership, the Global Fund can now look to make a fresh start ahead of the pledging conference for the period 2014 to 2016 that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will be chairing this autumn.
The future of our Global Fund looks bright indeed. Let's do all we can to keep it that way.
||General views of the conference room