The banners are rolled up, the Durban Convention Center floors are swept and the 18,000 delegates to the International AIDS Conference have all gone home. For many, the euphoric week of hugs, protests and panels blew by too fast. As global funding shrinks, there won’t be many more of these massive meetings. That makes it all the more critical to step up investment in and support for civil society now, as the engine that has driven funding, research, science and innovation in the AIDS response. Two recent reports I wrote explore both innovations and the challenges in actually getting the funds to communities.
The first was a report for African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) on key populations’ engagement with global health financing. I worked at the Global Fund in 2013-15, during roll-out of the “new funding model”, and pushed for space for communities to advocate at the country level as an integral part of that model. So the job of assessing key populations’ satisfication with that experience felt a little like my old Human Rights Watch colleague Marc Garlasco, who did high-value targeting in Iraq for the Pentagon before he went to the war zones for HRW to document civilian casualties caused by the bombs. (Though I hoped that the Global Fund’s “new funding model” had been less damaging than the Iraq invasion.)