04/29/2008 10:24 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Scaling Up Impact

I'm in Geneva for the 17th Board Meeting for the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS and Malaria. Having crossed the $100 million mark in (RED) money generated for the Fund, I'm here representing (RED) partners, (RED) consumers and (RED) shareholders in Africa. We are by far the largest contributing participant in the Private Sector delegation.

Today is the third day of formal and informal deliberations on items including: the role of the Global Fund as a strategic investor in Malaria, community and health systems strengthening, financing innovations for disease treatment and eradication, and a broad gender initiative.

Discussions have revolved around further simplifying the grant architecture and processes, and consolidation of partnerships on the ground. The focus is on how to be even more flexible and effective. The Fund's innovative model is a central driver behind this constant push for constructive evolution. As I've noted before, the impact on individual lives remains the benchmark against which all Global Fund projects are measured.

The Fund's unique structure -- with Board representatives from donor countries, implementing countries, both developed and developing country NGOs, the private sector, and communities of people living with the three diseases -- is fundamental to this impact-targeted creativity. In all my years of observing and attending government meetings, civil society conferences, stakeholder dialogues, and corporate strategy sessions, I've never before heard the powerful chords that result from the concert of these voices given equal weight and joined by a shared goal. But tone is one thing and action is another. And action was the general call.

One example of alliance in action was the proposal from the United States and the Developed Country NGOs, chaired by HealthGap to create an extra financing round to facilitate expedited scaling up of response to the three killer diseases. This call for extra proposals would allow countries a rapid route to revise and resubmit applications not approved in the prior round, or give them another chance to apply if they were unable to meet the earlier deadline.

Rather than lament or apologize for missed opportunities, these Board members are motivated to create more chances for countries in need to access the funds that will save people from imminent death. They are treating emergencies as emergencies and seeking to open new avenues for due diligence to proceed apace. And how encouraging to see the US government work with NGOs to get this item onto the agenda.

The Global Fund is working. From December 2006 to December 2007, the year of (RED)'s inception, there's been an 88 percent increase in the number of HIV+ people on anti-retroviral treatment. There is so much more to do, but it's incredibly encouraging to see the Board representatives pushing novel steps to support the implementing counties and impacted individuals. That is partnership.