Global Fund News Flash: Issue 02

Posted on: 24 May 2012 | News Flash

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Shift to Thrift

The World Health Assembly is a terrifically large gathering of global health officials from all of the World Health Organization’s 194 member states (which sounds like, and is, a lot of countries). For some staff at the Global Fund, the Assembly is a good venue to meet in person and discuss pressing issues with Health Ministers and other officials, who are our closest partners in implementing grants all over the world. Yet the gathering is also a time when everyone who cares about global health can consider broad trends that are raised by knowledgeable colleagues. WHO Director–General Margaret Chan had one primary piece of advice for her fellow health colleagues. “First, get back to the basics,” she told the gathering. “Shift to thrift,” was Chan’s message. For her, that means concentrating on efficiency and innovation. “Innovation does the most good when it responds to societal concerns and needs, and not just to the prospects of making a profit,” she said. “These days, the true genius of innovation resides in simplicity,” she added. “This is not rocket science. This is frugal, strategic innovation that sets out to develop a game-changing intervention, and makes ease of use and affordable price explicit objectives.” At the Global Fund, we are fully aligned with that view.  

Who Should Lead the Global Fund?

A meeting of the Board of the Global Fund in early May launched a selection process for choosing a new Executive Director. “This is probably one of the most strategic things we will do as a Board,” said Simon Bland, Board Chair, as he opened discussion of the topic. After lengthy consideration, the Board chose six people for a nominations committee, and decided that three additional independent members will join the committee as well. The committee will evaluate any candidates for the position, and will then narrow the field down to a shortlist of up to four candidates, to be considered by the entire Board. A key moment occurred when Mireille Guigaz, who represents France on the Board and who is one of six members chosen for the nominations committee, argued persuasively that the Board insist the short list include as many women as men. “If we do not firmly say that we will be able to find women, if we don’t say that openly, we will not get the result that we want,” she said. An alternate suggestion was that the committee produce “at least one woman” on the shortlist, while keeping open the possibility of two. Non, said Mireille. “We know how women are absolutely fundamental in the success of health initiatives,” she said firmly. “We have to be exemplary.” The Board agreed, and specified that the shortlist must include as many women as men. The nominations committee began work right away, and a decision is expected before the end of the year.

Profile: Michael Byrne, Grant Management’s Head of the “High Impact Africa I” Department

Michael Byrne

A big element in the recent reorganization at the Global Fund was creating three “High Impact” departments that can bring new focus to grant management in the countries with the greatest disease burden, where careful investment can save the most lives. Michael Byrne, a 20-year veteran of development work in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, was promoted to head “High Impact Africa I” in the Grant Management division. In his new role, Michael oversees the teams working on grant management in Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Sudan. That is a very large, critically-important portfolio. It takes some guts to accept that kind of responsibility. How well Michael does his job will determine how well grants can affect the lives and well-being of countless people, as well as their families and their communities. In person, Michael does not seem daunted by the challenge. He appears calm, speaks softly, and is highly focused on the tasks at hand. He seems to embody the hard truth that success on the ground, in implementing grants effectively, takes hard work on several levels. In his previous position, Michael managed the Local Fund Agent team at the Global Fund, and his main responsibility was to reform the work of the Local Fund Agents in countries in step with the Global Fund’s information and risk requirements for quality decisions. He supervised the team’s expansion in the area of risk management and fraud identification. Before coming to the Global Fund four years ago, Michael worked for 20 years on international development with experience working with non-governmental organizations and bilateral assistance, as well as with the European Commission. He also worked in the private sector in Ireland and Italy and has a Master's of Business Administration (MBA) from INSEAD, France. Originally from Ireland, Michael has two children, aged 4 and 5. When he is not working, or traveling on-site in Africa, he enjoys spending time in the mountains, telemarking (a type of Nordic skiing) in winter, and hiking in summer.

Global Fund Seeking Talent

And by the way, as part of the Global Fund’s process of strengthening grant management, the organization will be actively seeking and hiring talented and experienced staff in the coming months. There are a significant number of positions for program officers and other staff in our Grant Management division and in our Strategy/Impact department and also in Resource Mobilization and Donor Relations. The Global Fund has a highly diverse workforce, both in terms of the countries where our staff members were born (at last count, we have 94 different nationalities) and also in a great variety of work experience, not to mention languages spoken. We are determined to keep and to constantly expand the diversity of our ranks. Our main goal is to hire talented and highly motivated people, so we can have the best-quality staff possible. Yet we want to take this moment to encourage potential job candidates from developing countries to apply. Since we are located in Geneva, and do not have any “in country” offices, we naturally get more applicants from Europe than anywhere else. We want to do whatever we can to find talent from Africa and Asia. Please visit the “Employment” section of our website for more information about existing vacancies – this page is updated frequently:

What We’re Reading

We enjoyed reading a blog post written by a doctor working with HIV and AIDS patients in Kenya named Bob Carter. Appearing last week on the Huffington Post, his piece gives some insights into the realities of the people on the front lines in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and the impact that programs supported by us are having on the ground. Bob Carter has spent more than 27 years working in Africa and has witnessed the AIDS pandemic unfold in the most real sense. He makes a good case for why the G8 and other donor nations need to keep funding efforts to fight AIDS.

You can read the full blog post here:

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