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Simon Bland

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After a Year of Sweeping Reform, the Global Fund Is Ready for New Challenges

Posted: 11/30/2012 7:23 am

Last December after a year of soul-searching about the Global Fund's future culminating in the cancellation of a scheduled round of grant-giving, I insisted that the Global Fund was alive and well. It is time for an update. The Global Fund is now in robust health after enacting major changes in the way it does business.

Simply put, 2011 was the year that the Fund came to realize it had to make serious changes and 2012 has been the year to make those changes. The Fund is a learning organization. The recommendations from the High Level Panel that looked at our oversight and control functions, our own internal work on reform and our new strategy have all guided the changes over the past year.

And what a difference a year makes. The Board of the Fund set itself six priority tasks in 2012.

First, in February, the Fund appointed Gabriel Jaramillo as an interim General Manager to effect a turnaround in organization, management and culture within the Fund's Secretariat in Geneva. The pace and depth of this transformation has been unprecedented in the international system. It has set about ensuring that the focus of the Fund is on its clients with 75% of all staff now focused on grant management. Global Fund staff will spend more time in-country, they will foster much stronger partnerships and relationships, they will have clearer guidance, they will be more responsive with a rigorous system of troubleshooting and problem escalation. Country teams will be more collaborative, resourceful, respectful, accountable, humble and knowledgeable.

Second, the Fund is changing its business model in line with its new strategy. This involves developing a new funding model to change how the Global Fund makes funding available and how implementers apply for this funding and how the Global Fund makes and monitors its grants. Essentially this will allow the Fund to invest more strategically and actively support grant implementation success. It should make the Fund easier to do business with and make its assistance more predictable.

Third, we continue to work through further reforms to strengthen governance, improving communications, strengthening the voices of implementing countries, further streamlining and refining our processes to ensure we focus on the key functions of a Board - setting strategy, overseeing risk management, managing performance, overseeing finances, and raising the funds.

Fourth, we wanted to further strengthen our approach to risk through the establishment of our new, semi-independent Audit and Ethics Committee to help the Board oversee the work of the Office of the Inspector General.

Fifth the Fund has just announced that Mark Dybul will be our new Executive Director to start in January next year. The search for and selection of the new Executive Director was truly a world-class exercise. It wasn't drawn into the lowest common denominator political trade-off exercise that we have all come to expect. The Board, at its meeting in November in Geneva, had four exceptional candidates to choose from. I am grateful to each and every one of them for working through an exhaustive interview and selection process. The Board was fortunate and privileged to have such an exceptional shortlist. One of the candidates remarked, "the process itself was the most rigorous and professional I have observed in 25 years of recruiting in both the private and public sectors. The contrast with the process last time could not be more striking or more positive. It indicates the seriousness with which the Global Fund Board is taking its transformation responsibilities. "

We at the Fund will continue to show the way, to demonstrate what can be done, to show that we can set our own rules for effective behavior, delivery and impact. When we say we want to recruit on the basis of merit and not on politics or passports - we mean it. When we say we want to work ever more effectively with partners, that we want to invest strategically, that we want to be quicker more nimble and streamlined - we mean that too.

No one can deny that the Global Fund is a learning organization. It has turned the page from an emergency response, from a start-up enterprise to a significant and important piece of the global health landscape. It is, in my opinion, a world leader. It has helped the world deliver some astonishing results against the three diseases. It has truly changed the course of the three diseases - and this was the ambition of Kofi Annan, the G8 and African leaders. The Fund did not rest on its laurels, when challenges emerged in 2011 it responded. Few would have thought changes of this significance could have been achieved in such a short time. The international system is not known for rapid change. But the Global Fund wasn't designed to be like that. It was a 21st Century Organization, designed for the new millennia and it should not be bound by the same rules. It must be held to high standards. It must be held to account for results.

Expect nothing less, demand nothing less.

 
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