On 13th November, the Global Fund Secretariat organised a consultation at WHO Europe headquarters in Copenhagen to define a regional TB strategy for the implementation of its New Funding Model (NFM) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).
The consultation gathered a wide range of stakeholders including the Stop TB Partnership, the Global Fund Secretariat, WHO Country offices across the region, USAID, civil society groups like the TB Europe Coalition, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network, MSF, the International Federation of the Red Cross, KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance Ukraine and the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV.
The aim of the consultation was to define a limited set of priorities on what the Global Fund can do most effectively in the region while generating the greatest impact. Indeed, a Global Fund modelling of funding allocations under the NFM indicated that just 3% of total resources would be allocated to EECA. This represents a 50% decrease of what was previously available. Investment therefore needs to be directed towards most effective and targeted interventions.
A similar consultation was held previsouly in Geneva on HIV. Two priorities were identified for EECA: increased access to ARVs and increased access to harm reduction services for vulnerable groups, particularly injected drugs users.
Fanny Voitzwinkler of Global Health Advocates introduced and distributed TBEC’s latest report “Bridging the Gap: How the European Union can address the funding gap for TB and HIV programmes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia” and underlined the need to build the capacity of civil society as one of the priorities for the region: “civil society have a watchdog role to play in the transition process and need to hold their governments accountable to a sustainable domestic response to both diseases” she mentionned. GHA also advocated for a greater involvement of the European Union in the response to the diseases, as the single most powerful political and economic union in the region: “The European Institutions regional power needs to be harnessed to design a sustainable strategy and put in place the necessary leverages for a smooth transition in the region” noted GHA. It was also mentioned that a high level political summit on domestic financing for health should be organised in the region (similarly to the one organised in the African region together with the African Union), under the leadership of the European Commission with the help of other regional stakeholders.
Other participants continuously raised the importance of generating greater political commitment in the region, and the crucial necessity of involving civil society and communities in TB care and control. It was also noted that Global Fund grants should be conditioned to important health system reforms in former Soviet Union countries such as the transition from inpatient to outpatient models of care.