21 November 2012

Meet the New (Global Fund) Boss...

A series of big announcements were made regarding the Global Fund following the November 15th board meeting. Among other changes, the board unveiled the appointment of the next Executive Director, Dr. Mark Dybul. As the  United States Global AIDS Coordinator during the Bush Administration, Dr Dybul helped to lead the PEPFAR program. Deborah Derrick, president, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, expressed her support for the decision earlier in the week by writing in The Hill blog.

"As Dr. Dybul and the Global Fund move toward implementation of this new funding model, resources will flow more efficiently to support lifesaving programs," wrote Derrick. "With these changes under its belt, the Global Fund is prepared to save many more lives in the years ahead, and Dr. Dybul is well positioned to capitalize on the work of the past year and build on the Global Fund’s legacy."

Further glowing praise came from leaders in the press release announcing the appointment. “Mark Dybul is a true leader, who can take the Global Fund to the next level,” said Simon Bland, Board Chair of the Global Fund. “He has a really impressive vision of how to achieve global health goals. He is passionate, energetic and focused.”

More kind words were shared on Twitter and other social media sources at the time of the announcement  An article in Nature about the Global Fund's new direction spoke warmly of the Dybul appointment and includes yet another person happy with the decision. Barry Bloom of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts tells Nature that Dr Dybul did a good job when leading PEPFAR. “He did a really thoughtful, responsible and accountable job,” said Bloom.

A series of interviews with Dr. Dybul were published this week. When speaking with IRIN, Dr Dybul  explained why he is excited to take the new position. “One of the things that is most exciting for me is that… the Fund is a learning organization. It routinely reviews, reflects and adapts. The Fund is now in a very strong position with a strong forward trajectory,” he said.

The Global Fund also conducted its own interview with the income ED and released it this week. Here is a selection (the full thing is worth a quick read):
What is your vision for the Global Fund?

From its inception, the Global Fund has had an innovative approach to development. It’s an institution that looks at development with a 21st century approach, constantly learning, constantly improving. As the next Executive Director, my job will be to maintain the strong forward trajectory of the Fund in order to end the three diseases.

We’re at a unique moment in time, when we have the scientific advances to allow us to completely control these three diseases. We need to redouble our efforts to make sure we’re raising the resources and having that incredible focus on impact and high value for money. It’s exciting to have the chance to be involved with this remarkable institution at this time.

How do you see the organization evolving in the next few years compared with the recent past?

The actions taken by the Global Fund in the last couple of years show that the Fund is a learning organization. It learns, it reflects and it adapts. As a financing institution, the Global Fund will continue investing in programs that support national health strategies, and will expect that implementers increasingly engage and focus on high value-for-money and high-impact programs. What we can now achieve is incredible.

So you’re optimistic?

Yes. I’m an impatient optimist. I want us to recognize and make full use of the fact that science is giving us the tools to completely control these three diseases, including one that has been around for millennia and another that is the modern version of the plague. We can’t eliminate them right now, but if we work together we can control them.

What can you say about the new funding model?

The new funding model represents the evolution and the learning process of the organization, in order to improve the processes to ensure high value for money and impact. The model will be starting right away, and we will want to continue to support countries in evolving and improving their programs.

The new funding model will expand country dialogue, and support country-owned approaches. Countries know what needs to be done and how to solve the problems, and that’s what the Global Fund supports. All this should be done in partnership though and we rely on technical partner organizations, bilateral organizations, the private sector, and others to contribute to successful programs. And that’s one of the unique things about the Global Fund: it is a full partnership that supports smart investments.

In the new funding model, will the Global Fund continue to work with technical partners?

Yes, of course. The Global Fund is a financing institution and from its founding it has relied on technical partners, to ensure that programs we support are technically sound. We want to strengthen the technical partnerships within the UN family, with bilateral organizations, with the private sector and all entities that have technical expertise. A good example of private sector engagement is Coca-Cola’s participation in helping with supply chain management systems. We need to draw the technical expertise from wherever it is that is the best, so we can ensure high value for money and high impact in the programs that we support.
Amanda Glassman of the Center for Global Development advocated earlier this week to continue the promising progress that the Global Fund has made in light of a challenging year by implementing four reforms: 1) Define and measure performance better; 2) Connect funding to performance; 3) Assure that most funding goes to interventions and products that will make the most difference; 4) Create incentives for efficiency in delivery. 

Dr Dybul will assume the position of Executive Director beginning in February. As people seek clarity regarding the fate of AMFm and the new funding scheme takes shape, the Global Fund will remain under an ever watchful eye.

This post is adapted from a post that I wrote for PSI Impact.