Agenda item 6. Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF)
Delivered by Sonal Mehta, NGO Asia-Pacific
Thank you Madam Chair.
At the onset, let me request the august gathering to pardon me if I get too direct or emotional. I have some strong comments and some sad remarks to make. But first and foremost, we appreciate the hard work gone in preparing four parts of performance and finance reporting for UBRAF. They are intense and deep and reflect the hard work done by the team. We are also thankful to 13 countries who have already provided funds for 2018, and really, really hope the others will do the same quickly. We will never tire of saying that the argument of shrinking resources for HIV programmes and for civil society is not a fund issue, it is an issue of political will, of accountability and of saving lives in the forefront of the governments’ duties responsibilities, before politics.
Coming back to UBRAF, it is concerning that the resources available are not fully utilized.. We see less and less money spent on addressing the needs of civil society and community mobilisation, and more and more on guidelines, health systems and budget support. At this stage, there is a concern that funding civil society is not supported appropriately, and that it represents a lack of vision of those who are committed to Ending AIDS. And we will not reach the people that are left behind, we will not be able to negotiate or do the advocacy work with governments for the latest prevention or treatment measures and we might not be able to enhance work on the structural barriers. By now we have all learned that for better business of HIV prevention and treatment it is important to invest in the communities.
I would like to thank UNAIDS and the co-sponsors for making the reading of UBRAF report so difficult and so complicated, because if it were simple and easy to read it would be so heart breaking to see that out of total of 21 indicators of the eight strategic result areas of 2016-2021 strategy, there has been poor to very poor progress in last one year. One area of particular concern is the so-called fast track countries. It is very critical and important for the governments, who have signed-up to fast track promise, to realise that the results create a sad picture. The report reflects very poor to no progress on the 15 indicators between 2016 and 2017; three indicators show reverse trend and only three show relatively more number of countries reporting some progress in that areas. Do I sound as roundabout as the report itself? Let me attempt to make this simple. For the first indicator of ensuring community based testing and quality assured testing, in 2016 19/33 fast track countries reported having these services and in 2017 it is still the same number, not a single more country have started to provide these services. Another indicator is on the number of countries that implement latest eMTCT guideline, again there were 23/33 countries following the guidelines in 2016 and in 2017 only one more country was added to the list. In fact, there are countries with very low coverage that is way below the average performance within the region.
Is the performance report a mirror of political will? Is it the naked truth about reduced funding or does it reflect lack of performance accountability by people who should be performing? I would say it is a combination of all the three. I felt very responsible and guilty suddenly on flight. While I am spending energy in reading the 630 pages of four-part UBRAF report – while I combat with the cosponsor report to figure out the overall impact; juggle with numbers to justify the impact of joint programme; read case studies to see how the joint programme worked with civil society to increase .1% of domestic budgets – Asha the leader of a network in my hometown passed away at 27 due to cervical cancer, since pap smear test is not part of routine check up for six monthly monitoring; Romi died due to multiple infections because he was failing on his treatment regime and the CD4 machine was not working in Delhi hospital; Chinmay developed TB as coinfection and found it difficult to continue his MSW studies; and Simon is standing in line in government hospital to get his Hep C medicine started.
Now is the time when we really need the Civil Society Advocacy funds, that was talked about last year by the newly formed resource mobilisation team. The team did excellent job at scoping exercise but I am not sure how much was done on real resource mobilisation – since there was no target and therefore it seems there is no report.
While we are at money matters, may I please request UNAIDS to make the financial reporting simple. It is almost impossible for us non-charted accountants to understand that the overall expenditure against budget is 85% and that while the reporting of all the UNAIDS and Cosponsors are on overall UBRAF, the finances don’t clearly reflect budget versus expenditure. I could not find out for Secretariat for example, where I can see budget versus expenditure.
We are very curious to learn what happened to the joint resource mobilisation plan for 43 million with cosponsors. Have any efforts been successful or has it not moved.?
Finally, despite so much paper I couldn’t see the intense and essential work done by the UNAIDS and cosponsors at country levels in the CCMs, convening the various players at country level to negotiate change of regime or initiate test and treat, or being honest negotiators or amplifiers for our voices with government. All that work is not reflected in simple and straight way. Most impactful support I remember of UNAIDS in India was when then UNAIDS UCC helped us negotiate the largest single country MSM and TG programme for India within CCM and outside, when the national programme was very skeptical of the capacity of MSM and TG organisations, the success of the Pehchan project led to change in national figures for at risk MSM and TG. Can we please simply and directly show what is outcome of all the efforts and how much work is done countries not mere global meetings and compacts?
The #UNAIDSWeNeed must be more accountable, help member states to be more accountable, because now we have been waiting for too long. It is now or we collectively be ready for never.