Some disappointing news has emerged from the Technical Review Panel (TRP), the body of experts that considers requests for resources from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
Only 44 percent of the HIV proposals submitted for Round Ten were successful. In a pattern consistent with previous rounds, the TB proposals and the malaria proposals were much more successful, 54 and 79 percent respectively. (Note: These figures include resources for crosscutting health systems strengthening.)
A number of the countries in southern Africa that are most heavily burdened by HIV/AIDS had their HIV proposals rejected. (Note: The list of accepted and rejected proposals will become public after the Board meeting of the Global Fund, December 13-15.)
These proposals were rated category 3 by the panel, meaning that they can resubmit the application with improvements for future consideration. However, it is presently unclear if the Global Fund will engage in any future grant making because of the shortfall in donations at the recent replenishment.
In a very small number of cases, HIV proposals from southern Africa were successful, so that will be tremendously welcome news to the people who worked long and hard to prepare them.
The TRP also approved 12 proposals for “Most at Risk Populations,” for which the board had reserved funding. These proposals were from Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Few proposals were submitted from Africa for this funding and none was accepted.
In a major blow to hopes for the scale up of tuberculosis services, proposals from several high burden countries in Africa and Asia were rejected.
In its comments on the TB proposals the TRP said, “Many proposals failed to include comprehensive strategies for childhood TB diagnosis or management of pediatric cases.” It also said, “A primary weakness in Round 10 proposals was the lack of clear rationale for the selection of laboratory diagnostics, the lack of strategic planning for the introduction of new diagnostics (for example, GeneXpert), and the fact that only a small number of applicants included diagnostic algorithms.”
Membership of the TRP for Round 10 consisted of 43 experts. The TRP states that it observes strict rules to ensure compliance with the Global Fund’s Policy on Ethics and Conflict of Interest and to safeguard the independence of the TRP. These rules were updated and strengthened prior to the Round 10 meeting.