We are pleased to share below the Global Fund response to the petition published and shared with the Board Leadership and Board Members in July 2020.
Sent on behalf of the Board Chair and Vice-Chair
Global Fund Response to Key Population Groups Worldwide
The Global Fund takes note of the call for accountability and action from Key Population Groups Worldwide published on July 2020.
The Global Fund is deeply concerned about the catastrophic impact COVID-19 is having on the most vulnerable communities in India and around the world. We stand with our civil society partners in the fight against HIV in India during this challenging crisis. The Global Fund recognizes the suffering experienced by millions of people in India during lockdowns and other restrictions due to COVID-19. We empathize with the millions of people in India who were left in need of food, shelter and protection during the lockdowns, particularly key populations who are disproportionately vulnerable to HIV.
We also recognize and applaud the leading role that many community-based organizations and faith-based organizations played in bringing relief to many vulnerable people, including key populations stranded many miles from home during the lockdowns. In addition, we recognize the substantial role the government of India has played in providing Direct Benefit Transfers (cash) and dry rations to many vulnerable people in the country.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency, the Global Fund has acted swiftly to support countries to respond to COVID-19 and mitigate its impact on HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. In India, the Global Fund approved a funding request by the India Country Coordinating Mechanism to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on existing HIV, TB, malaria programs, reinforce the national COVID-19 response and fund urgent improvements in health and community systems. The Global Fund encourages the India CCM to submit an additional funding proposal including funding for key populations.
The Board of the Global Fund has emphasized that all C19RM applications must be fully endorsed by stakeholders on the CCM. We note that an HIV and Malaria Stakeholder’s Consultation meeting took place on 29 April 2020 to consider the CCM’s application prior to its submission. We further note that the CCM’s application to the Global Fund under the C19RM mechanism did not include items for key populations relating to food, shelter, and protection from gender-based violence. In accordance with our fundamental principle of country ownership (as set forth in the Global Fund’s constitutional Framework Document) the Global Fund approves funding for activities based on the request submitted by the CCM. The Global Fund did, however, approve funding for 100 HIV Care and Support Centers (CSCs) where medical treatment to patients is provided, as this was specifically requested in the CCM’s application.
Noting that further funding under C19RM worth US$10 million may be made available in India, the Global Fund invites India CCM to submit another funding request. The Global Fund believes that the involvement of civil society and community leadership is imperative in ensuring that key populations and marginalized groups are not left behind in the fight against diseases.
Attention Global Fund (21st July 2020)
Attention Global Fund – Urgent Call for Accountability and Action
From Key Population Groups Worldwide
We, sexworkers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs, otherwise known as ‘HIV key populations’ demand immediate and direct support for basic survival during the COVID pandemic.
Despite the promises made by multilateral agencies of “ leaving no one behind”, that is exactly what is happening. We have lost our jobs, are losing our homes, and are scared sick about how we will survive until we start working again. Yet no government, no multilateral agency, no UN organization – in fact not one of those who signed on to that promise has allocated any resources to ensure access to emergency rations, shelter, and medical care, which are critical to help us survive through this period.
Instead, in our name, millions of dollars are being spent on COVID testing equipment. For example, the Global Fund approved a USD20m COVID response fund for India that has no direct support for at least 1.5 million KPs, despite repeated, evidence-based demands by civil society.
There is undeniable evidence that KP leadership has scripted the success of HIV prevention efforts both in India and the world over. And while, organisations such as GFATM and UNAIDS have gained credibility and financial viability based on our struggles and hard-fought successes, key populations have themselves been left alone to mount yet another struggle to merely survive during these trying times.
We are shocked and hurt beyond measure that we have been abandoned at this time of crisis, even as People Living with HIV have some assured allocations for access to ARVs and other vulnerable people such as migrants have received some help.
The COVID pandemic has also exposed the continued lack of attention of global HIV programme planners to address structural issues that made us disproportionately vulnerable to HIV – Around 62% of new HIV infections occurred among key populations and their sexual partners, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who inject drugs and people in prison, despite them constituting a very small proportion of the general population. The same failure is now again making us disproportionately vulnerable to COVID.
Therefore – we have two demands:
– In the short term, requisite allocations be made for our basic survival – food, shelter, emergency medical care and safety from violence
– In the medium and longer term, the CCMs should stop the tokenistic use of civil society; and that the Global Fund should stop actively facilitating the appropriation of the CCMs by governments
We await a speedy and positive response.