It’s an exciting time for the African Constituency Bureau as we usher in a new crop of constituency leaders in accordance with governance policies that require new leadership every two years.
In this issue, we highlight both the challenges and triumphed The Bureau has experienced over the last two years (2016-2018) along with the exciting opportunities and important issues we’ll be tackling during the next two years (2018-2020).
We’re also excited to share the aspirations and visions of our incoming leadership, along with the achievements and challenges our outgoing leaders experienced, through Q&A’s with both.
What issues would you like the Bureau to focus on in the coming years? We want to know. Share your thoughts with us today at Email: Armelle Nyobe
Looking Ahead: Our Leaders’ Vision for Making the Constituency’s Voice Even Stronger
Building on the success of outgoing leaders, our new leadership is well poised to make the voice of our African constituencies even stronger.
Here’s a glimpse of what our new board member from DRC hopes to achieve during his 2018-2020 tenure on the board
Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga (MD, PhD), Board Member for WCA, 2018-2020, and current Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hopes to improve the living conditions of the Congolese population by rebuilding and restoring the credibility of the country’s health sector.
“As DRC’s Minister of Health, I’ve experienced first-hand the toll Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis has taken on the African population in terms of loss of economic and human development opportunities. I also witness every day the positive impact the Global Fund has had in firghting these three epidemics,” Dr. Kalenga said. “Diseases affect all our communities without making any distinction based on nationality. By working closely together, African Constituencies can raise the African voice and reinforce the African position in the Global Fund.”
As a newcomer to the African Constituency Bureau, Dr. Ilunga brings more than 30 years in medicine and public health and health economics to the ACB.
Dr. Ilunga holds a PhD in Public Health and Epidemiology and an MBA with a focus on Health Economics. He worked for more than thirty years as a doctor in Brussels serving as a specialist in internal medicine, the head of the intensive care unit, and finally as the Medical Director and Managing Director/CEO from January 2013 to December 2016.
He studied medicine and earned both his PhD and MBA in Belgium.
Here’s his vision for the ACB, in his own words.
Q: What inspired you to represent Africa on the GF Board?
A: As DRC’s Minister of Health, I experience first-hand how Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis are taking a toll on the African population in terms of loss of economic and human development opportunities.
This also means that I witness every day the positive impact the Global Fund has had in fighting these three epidemics. For instance, together with Nigeria, DRC accounts for more than 35% of global malaria deaths. However, thanks to the commitment of the Congolese Government and the Global Fund, the reported number of malaria cases and deaths has been steadily decreasing and about 90% of Congolese households now have access to free mosquito nets.
This inspired me to join the Global Fund Board and to contribute to the writing of a new page in the world’s fight against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
Q: What would you want to achieve in the next two years of your tenure?
A: The Global Fund has completely changed the world’s approach towards fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. However, its strategy could be further improved to ensure its investment has an even greater impact on the communities it serves.
For example, moving from a resource-based approach to a results-based approach and facilitating greater collaboration between donors would ensure a higher return on investment for each dollar the Global Fund invests.
Furthermore, the Global Fund should engage more with private providers of health services who have become some of our greatest partners in the African public sector.
Last but not least, as health is multi-dimensional, the Global Fund would benefit from a more integrated and multi-sectoral approach. This will help us achieve better results and contribute to the sustainability of the Global Fund’s investments.
I know these are ambitious goals to try to achieve in only two years, but even sowing the seeds of change at the Global Fund would be a significant achievement.
Q: What opportunities do you see ahead of you?
A: Although malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis remain major global health issues, there has been considerable progress towards their elimination over the past few years. There is now a global consensus that with targeted, effective actions we can achieve a world free from these three terrible diseases. We’re experiencing fantastic momentum that can be used to further accelerate the work of the Global Fund.
There are numerous other opportunities for change and improvement based on the wide range of country experiences. Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has invested in more than 150 countries across Asia, Latin America and Africa. These are more than 150 learning experiences about the best way to fight these three deadly diseases. We can, therefore, build on successes in some countries and learn from past failures.
Combined with a results-oriented approach and a search for efficiency, this diversity of experiences can serve as a source of innovation to develop original and unique solutions adapted to the local context of each country.
Q: What do you see as the main challenges ahead?
A: Despite the important progress in recent years, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria remain major global health issues as demonstrated by world statistics. Globally, an estimated 36.7 million people are living with HIV, tuberculosis remains one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide with over 1.7 million deaths in 2016, and 216 million cases of malaria were reported that same year.
While the medical treatment and care of patients suffering from these diseases has greatly improved, the best prevention remains a healthy and responsible behaviour. However, behaviour change among affected populations is the hardest part of our work. When we talk about access barriers to health services in developing countries, we often focus on financial and geographic barriers. We tend to ignore or overlook cultural barriers, such as religious or traditional beliefs, which shape people’s behaviour and influence their decision to look for appropriate health solutions. We will have to invest more in behaviour change strategies if we want to ensure the sustainability of the impact of the Global Fund.
Q: What is your vision of a stronger African Constituency Bureau?
A: Health is a common good that knows no boundaries. Similarly, diseases affect all our communities without making any distinctions based on nationality. Therefore, continental and international cooperation is essential to ensure the world’s safety. At the global level, this is the primary objective of the Global Health Security Agenda.
At the African level, there is room for improvement by strengthening our cooperation and communication. By working closely together, we can raise the African voice and reinforce the African position in the Global Fund Board. One way to achieve this goal is by strengthening the communications with the different African countries through their Country Coordinating Mechanisms.
Achieving stronger African Constituencies also requires full responsibility and accountability on the part of African Governments. Governments are ultimately the ones responsible for protecting the health and safety of their populations. Therefore, increasing domestic resource mobilization to invest in health programmes should be a priority. By contributing more to the Global Fund activities, their voice will have more weight in the discussions about the Fund’s investments.
Furthermore, active and strong African Constituencies can also serve as a bridge between the Global Fund and the African governments it seeks to support. The Global Fund is still not well known or understood by governments and there is much misunderstanding around different issues like counterpart financing. We can start solving these misunderstandings by consulting all the member states of both African Constituencies in order to ensure that their concerns and objectives are well represented at the board level. Then, African board members should be accountable and have a responsibility to report back in detail what has been decided. This will ensure that no country feels left out of the discussions and key decisions of the Global Fund.
Please join us in welcoming our new leadership team and wishing them a successful tenure. Together, we will build on the successes of our outgoing leaders to make the African Constituency Bureau stronger and even more influential.
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