Malaria funding – how can we fill the gaps

Nigeria is getting close to final signing of its Global Fund Round 8 Malaria Grant.  The amount approved over five years is roughly two-thirds of the original estimated need to cover those areas of the country not already served by donor support. Part of this reduction was judicious pruning, but the bulk reflects how economic hard times are hitting GFATM.

Aidspan’s Global Fund Observer notes that, “the economic slowdown has dampened expectations concerning how much money the Global Fund may be able to raise over at least the next year or two.”  And although funds requested for proposals in Round 9 are on average greater that those in Rounds 1-7, “The average two-year cost of the proposals submitted in Round 9 was $29 million, less than the $35 million average for Round 8.”  Although the number of malaria proposals in Round 9 is higher than for Round 8, their estimated funding requests are about two-thirds of those submitted for Round 9.

An important irony is becoming apparent with Round 8 malaria funding. Of the 23 approved R8 grants, only 3 are listed as having signed the grant agreement that allows funds to flow.  In these hard economic times, one wonders why 8 months have passed without efforts by countries to get their money.

from-approval-to-signing.jpgGrant agreement signing depends on a country presenting a work plan and budget for the first year.  RBM partners have taken a special interest in grant signing in recent years, recognizing it is not enough to provide technical assistance needed to write a winning grant.  This may say something about country level capacity to manage grant funds or the level of political will and seriousness applied to the problem of malaria in endemic countries.  Whatever the reason for delays, we must recognize that 2010 is fast approaching, thus imperiling universal coverage.

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