Civil Society actors contributing to the HIV, TB and Malaria response in Nigeria challenge the Global Fund to fight HIV, TB and Malaria over its consistent acts of meddling and imposition in the country’s implementation arrangements proposed for the 2021-2023 implementation period.
Earlier in July, the Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire had announced that Nigeria has received an $890m grant from Global Fund to reduce the burden of HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria over an implementation period of three years beginning from 2021 to 2023.
While the cheering news was received as a huge boost to strengthen the country’s response in addressing the 3 diseases, the CSOs are appalled that conditionalities being proposed by the Global Fund for the implementation of this grant are in breach of core principles such as value for money, strengthening of local institutional capacity, demonstrated programme performance and competence which should ideally inform the selection of lead implementers ,otherwise known as Principal Recipients -PRs for this Grant.
We are deeply concerned on the proposed Portfolio Implementation Arrangement in Nigeria for the 2021-2023 allocation period as communicated via a letter dated 16th July 2020 from the Grant Management Division of the Global Fund.
Our concern is premised on the principle behind the proposed Portfolio Implementation Arrangements which is totally contradictory to the core principles of partnership and country ownership, which the Global Fund promotes.
The CSOs note that the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) chaired by the Minister of Health had in response to the Global Fund’s implementation related concerns about high management costs and value addition and the need to reduce the number of Principal Recipients (PRs) conducted an analysis of potential PRs for its HIV, Malaria/RSSH and TB grants. This was done on the basis of key criteria including performance, comparative competencies, and cost of doing business.
Specifically, for its HIV grants, 2 PRs, namely Family Health International (FHI 360 which is an international organization) and Society for Family Health (a local organization) were assessed based on these key criteria.
The CCM in its analysis had indicated its preference for SFH based on the assessment results which showed that that in comparison with SFH on the basis of absorption capacity, rating, overall performance, management costs , Key population programming, responsiveness to the CCM , SFH outperformed FHI 360 significantly. According to a value for money analysis conducted by the CCM, using SFH as PR will save Nigeria over $24 million which can be applied to save more lives of children and their mothers with malaria, HIV and TB. The CCM had also expressed concerns regarding the retention of Management Sciences for Health MSH (an international organization) as a PR for RSSH based on its poor performance on the current grant, high management cost and poor relationship management with government agencies they are working for.
However, despite the evidence and sound basis on which the CCM recommended SFH as the preferred PR, the Global Fund overturned the country’s decision and is insisting that FHI 360 remain as the PR stating that Nigeria is operating under what is described as the Additional Safeguard Policy (ASP).
In the best interest of our country, these implementation arrangements need to be reviewed to ensure that organizations that have capacity and have consistently demonstrated good performance records remain in the forefront of grant implementation. Arrangements which are not based on objective criteria and reflect favoritism rather than demonstrated capacity and competence will not augur well for our collective national response.
The CSOs have also written to the Global Fund’s Executive Director, Mr. Peter Sands, challenging the Global Fund’s policy inconsistencies and double standards in its communication and relationship with Nigeria stating that “such practices must stop to enable this new grant to commence on a good note in the best interest of the beneficiaries on whose behalf we are fighting.”
They have also vowed to escalate the current situation to CSO colleagues within the regional and global coalitions they belong to as well as the Global Fund’s Board.
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