Grantee spotlight: Africa Japan Forum |

This article is part of a series on the grantees of The New Venture Fund for Global Fund Advocacy (NVF for GFA), a grant-making initiative dedicated to advocacy for increased resource mobilization for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The NVF for GFA initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. International Civil Society Support (ICSS)—which serves as the Secretariat for the Global Fund Advocates Network—is the primary grantee and technical partner of NVF for GFA. As a technical partner, ICSS provides support to grantees by providing strategic input and coordinating with key stakeholders to maximize impact of the investments.

Africa Japan Forum (AJF) found success during its NVF for GFA grant in using strategies that focused on Japan’s funding priorities by developing and leveraging civil society advocacy around Japan’s leadership in international fora. AJF had two key opportunities at which to further this agenda: the G7 Summit hosted in Japan in May 2016 (where UHC was a key agenda item) and TICAD VI in August 2016.

AJF’s key challenge to Global Fund resource mobilization in Japan was a government whose funding had shifted away from disease-specific priorities. Its strategy during its grant was to focus on the themes of universal health coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Japan’s top priorities in its current global health agenda. As a result, the AJF and its partners’ work has established the Global Fund in Japan’s global health policies as a mechanism to achieve UHC and the SDGs: at Japan’s highest political levels, it is understood that “funding the Global Fund is equivalent to funding UHC”.

In the lead up to the G7 Summit, to overcome the weak linkage between the Global Fund and UHC, in October 2015 AJF organized a workshop for domestic and international civil society (including GFAN Speaker, Clara Banya) and Japan’s Ministries. The outcome position statement entitled “People’s Health Comes First,” proved to become a key advocacy tool when engaging policy makers, influencers, and a number of Japanese parliamentarians, including PM Shinzo Abe, who eventually announced support for the Global Fund in relation to UHC.

AJF’s next step was to launch a national platform for Japanese CSOs for the G7 Summit. At the Civil G7 Dialogue in March 2016, the Japan G7 Civil Society Platform, GFAN advocates and the G7/G20 Taskforce together negotiated with the G7 Sherpas for Japan’s commitment to the Global Fund. The advocacy work materialized with Japan’s pledge announced on May 20 at the first meeting of the SDGs Promotion Headquarters – Japan announced a pledge of US$800 million for the Global Fund’s 5th Replenishment, the same in USD as the Fourth Replenishment, but a 43% increase in Japanese yen. The following week’s G7 Declaration and the “G7 Ise-Shima Vision for Global Health” also committed the G7 countries to fully support the Replenishment and emphasized the Global Fund’s central role in achieving UHC and the SDGs, as well as promoting strong health systems and UHC for non-communicable diseases, HIV, TB, malaria, women’s health and aging society, anti-microbial resistance and research & development.

At TICAD VI in August 2016, AJF worked together with the colleagues of GFAN Africa, CISPHA and the Civic Commission for Africa (CCfA) to advocate African governments push the agenda of the three diseases and the Global Fund as well as human security and UHC. In the Ministerial Level Meeting, their position was supported by several African governments and most of their points were reflected in the approved version of the Nairobi Declaration, including prioritization of a “human security” approach, mention of the role of civil society to achieve UHC and an end to the 3 diseases.

During the grant, AJF was able to reinforce partnerships with key domestic and global CSOs and perform central roles in launching two civil society coalitions to advance health advocacy. This project was the only grassroots advocacy in Japan for the Global Fund. While a number of organizations are engaged in health advocacy, this project represented the sole platform to bring together the voices of people most affected by the infectious diseases and to deliver them directly to the Japanese policy makers. Working with conventional and recent partners, AJF was able to cultivate new advocacy channels with the high-profile political party members, the Cabinet Office and several Ministries. One resulting achievement of this was AJF’s influence on the Japanese Delegation’s speech to the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS in June 2016: while a draft mentioned only women and children as vulnerable groups, AJF proposed to include key affected populations of MSM, sex workers and people using drugs. The result was the first time the Government of Japan expressed the need to protect the rights of drug users in its official statements.

Masaki Inaba, Director of the Global Health Program at AJF affirmed, “It was extremely helpful for civil society in Japan, whose mechanism to fund civil society is not sufficiently developed. Our work this year was constituency building through SDGs, TICAD, and UHC to mainstream the next replenishment of the Global Fund in the next stage. We really appreciate NVF for GFA because it recognized the importance of constituency building and gave its support to our work for the Global Fund.”

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