The Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria is urging countries to invest in maternal and child health (MCH) programming as it prepares to launch its next Round of funding later this month. The Global Fund’s Board decided at its April meeting to highlight the critical importance of MCH, including comprehensive family planning, in the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria. The decision, Exploring Options for Optimizing Synergies with Maternal and Child Health, marks the first time that the Board has so strongly acknowledged the links between Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 (reducing child mortality), MDG 5 (improving maternal health), and  the Global Fund’s core mandate of MDG 6 (combating HIV, malaria, and TB).

“The Board encourages countries and partners, as a matter of urgency, to work together in the context of opportunities presented through grant reprogramming, Round 10, and changes to the Global Fund grant architecture to urgently scale up investments in MCH in the context of Global Fund’s core mandate.”

The Global Fund will launch the Round 10 call for proposals on May 20, 2010. In Round 10, the Global Fund is encouraging Country Coordinating Mechanisms to look for opportunities to include MCH in their applications for HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and Health Systems Strengthening.

While this is the first time the Board has specifically supported financing MCH integrated programming within a particular Round of funding, it builds upon the Global Fund’s history of supporting country-led integrated health responses. Prior Board strategies gave recipient countries the mandate to develop integrated interventions to address gaps in health delivery.  Last year’s Gender Equality Strategy, for instance, encouraged countries to develop interventions, including the integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV, to promote gender equality and equity.  The recent decision notes that some areas along the continuum of care in maternal and child health—including comprehensive family planning—need special attention in order to meet the 2015 MDG goals.
Access to comprehensive voluntary family planning greatly improves outcomes for maternal health, child health and HIV/AIDS.  The integration of family planning and HIV/AIDS services is a vital and cost-effective way to prevent HIV infection, including through mother-to-child transmission. At the same cost, family planning services can avert nearly 30 percent more HIV-positive births than use of nevirapine, an antiretroviral drug, by HIV-positive pregnant women.
The Global Fund has demonstrated it will finance family planning interventions and reproductive health supplies as critical components of HIV, TB, Malaria and HSS applications.  Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia represent a few of the countries that are currently being financed by the Global Fund for these programs.
For countries wishing to take advantage of the Global Fund’s willingness to fund integrated programming, PAl has developed A Practical Guide to Integrating Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS into Grant Proposals to the Global Fund.  This document, will help CCMs, civil society organizations and others developing proposals for the Global Fund for programs that integrate reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.  The document is available in English, French and Spanish and can be accessed here.

Sign up for the Washington Memo.