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The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria discontinues financial support for Russia in 2018: what’s expected after that?

December 18, 2017

Since January 2018, the programs of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Russia are closing. The funding will be discontinued since the next July. Takie Dela media tried to understand what will be the impact of the GF withdrawal on foundations and organizations.

What happened?

The Global Fund has already withdrawn from Russia, now it is just completing its mission, and we were aware about this”, says Irina Maslova, Director of the Silver Rose NGO, the association of sex workers and their supporters. Indeed, the funding program of the Global Fund was scheduled for three years ahead, and since disbursements started in July 2015, the centers and funds will receive financial assistance from the Fund for another 6 months of 2018.

The Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS in the Russian Federation compiled the funding application. The application was drafted not for a specific recipient, but for Russia in general. 11 million dollars for 3 years were allocated to the Russian organizations. “This is a very small amount compared to the disease prevalence and spread pace in some regions of our country”, adds Irina Maslova, who was the Chair of the Coordination Committee at the time of application submission.

The Global Fund has been a donor for Russian organizations for 13 years since 2004. Sometimes funding of programs declined dramatically, while in other periods it, to the contrary, expanded. However, discontinuation of the programs funding in Russia a conscious step. The Global Fund is not just withdrawing from Russia, it is completing its mission, Irina Maslova notes. “The mission of the Fund, like all organizations, is to show how to work, how to make interventions efficient. Subsequently the state should take over the responsibility”, adds Sergei Dugin, head of the “Humanitarian Assistance” fund.

Now Russia guarantees treatment to all HIV-infected people, but the prevention programs in our country are very poorly developed. According to the latest data from Rospotrebnadzor (Russian Service of Consumer Protection and Oversight), only a third of all people living with HIV receive ART, and slightly more than three quarters of the total number of PLWH are enrolled for dispensary supervision. In total, more than 924,000 of people live with HIV in Russia.

Sergei Dugin cited Tatiana Golikova, who held the post of Minister of Health of Russia from 2007 to 2012. In one of her speeches, she stated that Russia would take over the financing of organizations when the mission of the Global Fund is completed. Tranches from the Global Fund will be spent in July, but nobody even mentioned the government’s new obligations to key populations.

What will be the consequences?

The severity of the consequences of the Global Fund withdrawal for local HIV projects depends on the organization and funding type. For example, the association “E.V.A” – the first non-governmental network organization in Russia to protect women affected by HIV and other socially dangerous diseases, has not received any tranches from the Global Fund before. “We never received money from the Fund, so our organization will continue working as usual”, explained Yulia Godunova, the association’s Director.

There are also organizations that relied on the GF financing only to some extent. Omsk center “Sibalt”, which has been working on prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections prevention for more than 20 years is one of such organizations. “Of course, we are likely to face some negative consequences”, said Vladimir Averin, Chairman of the Board of the center. – When some of the funding flows are cut off, we need to look for other donors. We must invigorate fundraising activity”.  He also noted that it is better to concentrate efforts through consolidation rather than work as separate organizations – thus, the chances to win grants from a particular donor increase.

Of course, the organizations which completely depended on the Global Fund support found themselves in the most ominous situation. “Someone will make it through, someone will not”, Irina Maslova draws a hard line. The further activities of the funds will directly depend on their efforts: applying for state grants, associations for working with donors, building new development models. “Meanwhile, no project for sex workers and men who have sex with men was supported by the Presidential grant”, – Maslova said.

What to do?

Now it is very important to develop a culture of donations in Russia, as well as work with business, says Sergei Dugin. “Unfortunately, fundraising and voluntary contributions in our country are at the initial stage of development, in contrast to Europe and the United States. It is important to understand that the support of the Global Fund is aimed exclusively at key groups, and the organizations providing a wider range of assistance are much more likely to stay afloat”, he notes.

The deadline for applications for funding from July 2018 is expired. However, there are other ways of cooperating with the Global Fund, and they are worth exploring. “As far as I know, negotiations are underway, probably the cooperation modalities will be changed. Now the opportunities for Russia in the Global Fund are being clarified – the work can be re-oriented to advocacy support”, Vladimir Averin adds.

Russia is not included in the list of the Global Fund programs till 2019. However, GF expects to continue operations in all other countries of the former USSR, except for the Baltic region. In Europe, the Fund implements programs only in the poorest countries – Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and Romania.

Russian HIV-service organizations do not agree that the GF mission in Russia can be considered fulfilled and do not consider that they may rely on the state in full. Nevertheless, they are ready to continue their activities. “We will still work. We do not know how to ensure it yet, but we will not give up. Our persistence and understanding that we are doing a very important work is crucial”, Irina Maslova concluded.

Author: Victoria Levitskaya

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