The Future of the Global Fund
Monday, February 23, 2015
During his recent visit to Canberra, Stephen Howes spoke to Dr Mark Dybul, the head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. You can listen to a podcast of their full conversation here. The following is a condensed transcript.
Stephen: You’ve come at an interesting but somewhat difficult period for Australian aid with the largest cuts ever announced in December. Are shrinking aid budgets a problem you’re facing from other countries as well?
Mark: It’s a good question. There’s a global financial slow down as you know, at least in some parts of the world, including Europe, which is where about 60 per cent of the money for the Global Fund comes from.
But what we’ve seen is that even with the fiscal challenges countries are having, they’re maintaining and even increasing commitments to multilateral organisations.
We’re seeing actually increases in contributions from some countries in Europe. Even in France, which has a very tight economy, President Hollande has repeatedly said in public that the one institution he won’t cut is the Global Fund. So despite economic difficulty we’re seeing very strong support, and the Gavi replenishment was a demonstration of that with very substantial increases from a number of countries. Certainly ebola reminded people that health is actually a global issue… not only is it humanitarian, the ‘I’m doing good’ stuff, it’s enlightened self-interest.
Stephen: One of the issues in Australia that I’m sure affects attitudes to the Global Fund is the emphasis of the government on the private sector and on aid for trade. And there’s a clear risk that with a diminished aid budget, funding for health will get cut. How would you respond to the argument that aid should be focused on growth in the private sector and aid for trade?
Mark: Well, I actually think that is one of the reasons that people have remained focused on health and education, because a lot of people are focused on trade. A number of governments around the world put development squarely within a trade relationship. It’s not unique, actually.