Africa: Why the Private Sector Should Increase Direct Funding to the Global Fund

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opinion

I consider this to be a dubious argument. Directly supporting the Fund's fight against three diseases that can compromise your customer base seems like a good business practice - both economically and morally. Additionally, it is disingenuous to conflate the paying of taxes and a direct contribution to the Global Fund. Governments exercise discretion in their use of tax revenue. Corporations evaluate investments and then take decisions, which yields returns that are taxed according to legal obligations. Direct contributions to the Global Fund are not legal obligations; they are moral ones.

I would encourage corporations to see contributions to the Global Fund as a crucial investment to ensure their sustainable financial futures.

Think of it this way: every dollar spent on saving lives means a chance for that life to contribute in some way to the economic development of her country, which includes the purchase of goods and services. Healthy people go to work, earning a living that they use to buy necessities: food, clothing and yes, increasingly, cell phones.

While the private sector should be encouraged to invest more in the Global Fund, the Fund itself also has an obligation to do more to encourage that investment. Until now, policies on private sector engagement have been rather vague.

In its 2009 policy paper An Enhanced Strategy for Partnership with the Private Sector, public-private partnership is described as "a less than optimal arrangement" due to the informality of arrangements, ambiguity of partner roles and a lack of clarity on funding technical assistance.

This paper - and the Fund's policies - need revisiting. Private-public partnerships are critical to the future of global development, because of what they can accomplish. The Global Fund must be more imaginative and proactive in developing its relationships with the private sector, and push for increased direct funding of the Global Fund by multinational corporations working in countries where the Fund supports programmes. It's the right thing to do. Corporate social responsibility does not end with promises; it ends with investment in saving lives, and the Global Fund is the right vehicle to invest in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria.

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