July 14, 2020
Honorable Ministries and Secretaries of Health,
It is my honor to address you when presenting the progress report on the key actions undertaken during my managerial responsibilities as Global Fund Alternate Board Member for the Latin American and Caribbean constituency for the period 2019-2021. The LAC delegation participating in the Forty Third Board Meeting and the first one held virtually on May 14-15, 2020, was headed by Hon. Dr. Mary Isella Isaac as Board Member, Senator, Minister of Health (Saint Lucia), and myself as Alternate Board Member; Mr. Rosmond Adams, PANCAP Director, Caribbean Communication Focal Point (Guyana); Dr. Gabriela de la Iglesia, LA Communication Focal Point (Argentina); Mr. Javier Luis Hourcade Bellocq, LA CSO Member (Argentina); Mr. Edner Boucicaut, Caribbean CSO Member, CCM Representative (Haiti); Mr. Lucien Govaard, CariFLAGS Co- Chair, Youth Representative (Surinam); Ms. M. Joan Didier, OECS RCM Representative(Saint Lucia); Hon. Dr. Alejandra Acuña, Technical Cooperation Horizontal Group (TCHG) Chair, Vice- Minister of Health (Costa Rica); Mr. Dereck Springer, Former PANCAP Director (Guyana); Dr. Eduardo Hage Carmo, Public Health Specialist, Former Senior Public Health Officer at ISAGS – UNASUR (Brazil) and Mr. Guillermo Birmingham, Audit/Finance, AFC member (Panama).
LAC Delegation welcomed the Global Fund ongoing actions under COVID-19 Response Mechanism as well as the Grant Flexibilities, making US$1 billion available to help countries fight COVID-19, to protect Global Fund’s core mandate by ensuring adequate response and program continuity. The LAC Delegation congratulated the Executive Director and the Global Fund Secretariat for their commitment and early measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on health products supply chains and to accelerate access to COVID-19 commodities including diagnostics, laboratory materials and equipment, and PPE. We also recognized their involvement in the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator working to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to safe, quality, effective and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics, and coordinated work on vaccines. In addition, the LAC Delegation acknowledged the ED’s proactive commitment to working with partners, by co-leading the WHO Diagnostics Consortium along with UNICEF, tasked with determining how to best engage with companies to respond to COVID-19, while protecting existing diagnostics supplies availability for the three disease programs.
The LAC delegation had an active role and strong voice to emphasize the most probable post COVID-19 setting with potential impact on countries eligibility due to the pandemic’s negative impact on the three diseases and the foreseen economic recession and impact on GDP. In the same way, the LAC Delegation Statement raised concerns in relation to the COVID-19 social, economic and health impacts, since several countries in the LAC Region will have their eligibility re-qualified and their grants transition readiness will inevitably be affected. Given that the upsurge of concentrated epidemics will be associated not only with
the economic impact but also programs implementation (i.e. HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis), LAC Delegation highlighted that the Global Fund should support development of the COVID-19 related Grant Business Continuity plan that is informed by past experiences on epidemic resurgence (i.e.: Cholera, Ebola, SARS, MERS).
The Board agreed on the imperative to leave no one behind, stressing the critical role of communities in keeping people safe, especially when facing a new wave of challenges, an also recognizing the severe danger posed by COVID-19 to progress made against HIV, TB and malaria, the Board asserted a strong commitment to striving for equitable access and protecting the most vulnerable. Furthermore, the Board identified the need to advance on global health security and strengthen systems for health, as central issues to protecting the Global Fund’s core mission and to fight new and emerging diseases like COVID-19. In the same line, the Board discussed measures to make sure that mitigation and response strategies will protect people, by leveraging the power of multi-stakeholder engagement and partnerships including civil society, communities, government and private sector partners. At its meeting, the Board also discussed development of the next Global Fund Strategy and the need to adapt to the new challenges posed by COVID-19 and by climate change.
The Board most relevant decision was the approval of the Terms of Reference of the Inspector General Nomination Committee and revisions to the Terms of Reference of the Inspector General. The current IG term is finalizing and the incumbent IG is leaving ahead of the end of his term to start his new position at the World Bank.
Before the actual Board meeting, both the Implementers Group and the LAC Delegation held preparatory meetings on May 11 and 12, respectively, to review key issues and agree on common positions particularly about the New Global Fund Strategy Development; COVID-19 and Business Continuity other critical agenda items of shared interest. 2020 is an open consultation year for the Global Fund on the development of the Global Fund’s post-2022 strategy, a background presentation is attached that explains the consultation process and lists a set of proposed questions for refection and input provision by September 1st, 2020. The LAC representation developed a concept note of the proposed consultation process using surveys on experiences and contributions from implementing countries and their partners aimed to provide in-depth information and inputs to consolidate an evidence-based document (please see attached the concept note). LAC Constituency members and key partners will participate in the development and implementation of the survey, including the questionnaires content related to: STC, financial capability, Monitoring and Evaluation, Civil Society/community based response and bridge funding, Grant business continuity plans and countries´ eligibility and transition readiness in the new COVID-19 pandemic scenario. In this regard a LAC Steering Committee was recently created with the participation of main stakeholders such as: a) National Health authorities; b) Representatives from Civil Society networks; b) Technical partners such as PAHO/WHO and UNAIDS; and d) Global Fund LAC Regional Manager and country teams responsible for country and regional grants. The LAC Steering Committee will have fluid and constant communication
and consultation with other sub-regional structures, PANCAP/CARICOM, SICA/COMISCA and ORAS/CONHU Andean Region, to include and coordinate all countries in the LAC Region. This will improve LAC Constituency information sharing, consultations, outreach efforts and relationships between GF Secretariat, the LAC representation to the Board and the beneficiary countries. Furthermore, we are assessing the capacity of our existing LAC platforms to manage this and to determine what are the most effective communication tools needed. LAC Constituency agreed on the identified need to delay Global Fund Partnership Forum discussions to the beginning of 2021 in line with the evolving COVID-19 epidemiological information, normative and country guidance as set forth in GF/B42/EDP12.
Concerning the methods of work for LA Representation, I would like to recognize the ongoing support received from the Latin America Communication Focal point for the GF and the Area of Communication Platform support. The Latin American local support group to the Alternate Board Member continues functioning through virtual communication with additional members from NGO Networks, Civil Society, and technical partners such as PAHO/WHO and UNAIDS.
The Caribbean subgroup continues to be supported through the PANCAP/CARICOM platform and there is a fluid and constant communication and consultation among the two sets of countries. PANCAP/CARICOM is also the very capable administrator of the funds received to support the LAC operations and PAHO /WHO provides administrative support to the Latin America representative for the operation and maintenance of a communication platform in Spanish to ensure a continuous flow of information within the Constituency and with other stakeholders in the Latin America sub-region, as well as to provide the technical expertise in analyzing and compiling policy and strategy documents and comments from all stakeholders including PAHO, UNAIDS, CCMs and RCMs, and presenting and /or negotiating the regional position at the Board level.
Beyond my duties as GF Alternate Board member, I have been a member of WHO Strategic advisory group (SAGeM) on malaria eradication (2016-2019) and continued as Member of the WHO MEOC (Malaria eradication oversight committee) since 2018, as well as a Roll Back malaria RBM Board member (2017-2022). In these groups, I have the responsibility of contributing with the individual and collective experiences of disease elimination from the LAC Region, while I keep reminding all parties about the need of protecting the countries achievements, particularly in UMICs and LMICs in the response to the three diseases. Nowadays, with some countries in Latin America recording a resurgence in malaria cases and with the outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic, a robust surveillance system and the continuous retraining of health workers which enabled Argentina and Paraguay to maintain zero malaria cases must continue to be prioritized in the long-term. On the 21st of February 2020, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, the WHO Director-General appointed me as one of the six Special Envoys on COVID-19, to provide strategic advice and high-level political advocacy and engagement in the LAC Region and to work in close collaboration with WHO Regional Directors and country offices to coordinate the global response to COVID-19. My main
functions as Special Envoys on COVID-19 are to: i) Amplify the messages of the Director-General; ii) Disseminate WHO guidance on COVID-19 readiness and response; iii) Partake in high-level advocacy and political engagement; iv) Provide strategic advice on preparedness, readiness and response to COVID-19 outbreaks; v) Engage with regional bodies and national governments; and vi) Report regularly to the Director-General on my work and the situation in countries.
I am pleased to inform that Guillermo A. Birmingham, LAC Constituency expert and Audit and Finance Committee (AFC) member (2018-2020), was appointed for a second term to the AFC (2020-2022). He also attended the 12th and 13th AFC meetings held virtually, on March 16-17 and July 2-3, respectively. Relevant issues were addressed and substantial contributions were made on Financial Oversight, OPEX budget, Resource Mobilization, Risk Management Overview, Financial Performance Assessment and Absorption Capacity.
With reference to the LAC Constituency outreach efforts, I would like to mention the monthly LAC Newsletter, the Alternate Board Member six-month reports; the regular briefings to Permanent Missions of LAC Member states based in Geneva and during the COHSOD and PAHO Directing Council; and regular meetings with LAC Regional Manager and country teams responsible for country and regional grants to improve relationships between GF Secretariat and LAC countries.
I will continue my duties as Alternate Board Member, supporting the Hon. Dr. Mary Isella Isaac in her new role as Board Member and with the LAC Constituency members.
The monthly newsletter in Spanish is being published and you can subscribe to it as well as visit the website www.lacfondomundial.org, and/or use communication channel through Facebook facebook.com/lacfondomundial.
Please do not hesitate to contact me for any enquiry or further information; I am opened to your guidance, proposals, suggestions for improvement and consultations through my personal e-mail email@example.com and at the institutional e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
You can access the support documents in the following links
Dr. Mirta Roses Periago
Global Fund Alternate Board Member
Latin America and the Caribbean Representation