The role of communities in health systems strenghtening

On January 24th (2022), Friends of the Global Fund Europe (hereafter Friends Europe) hosted a webinar to highlight the role of the communities in health systems. The event was in partnership with Friends of the Global Fund Japan and the Friends of the Global Fight.

The recently released Global Fund Strategy 2023-2028 places a strengthened emphasis on the role of communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Communities are therefore at the heart of the investments that donor countries will be supporting with the 7th replenishment of the Global Fund. This webinar explored the critical roles that communities play across multiple dimensions of disease responses and health systems.



Stefano Vella (Vice-president of Friends Europe in charge of Italy) opened the event by noting the essential contribution of communities in the key moments of the International AIDS Conference in Durban in 2000 and the launch of the Global Fund.

The founding charter of the Global Fund was shared. Communities were involved in mobilizing the Global Fund’s creation, sustaining its support, and successfully designing/implementing its programs


Erika Castellanos (Global Action for Trans Equity) introduced the panel discussion by framing the essential impact that communities have played in accelerating progress. Erika Castellanos emphasized that we must not lose sight of the community role in these advances and the transformative impact that they have had on people living with HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.

The Global Fund and its unique mechanism encourages the involvement of communities and it’s something that we should protect dearly. The new Global Fund strategy places communities at the center and it also has a strong emphasis on health system strengthening; it’s an opportunity to continue advancing in the response to epidemics. Investments in communities are investments in health systems. Communities and community systems are an integral part of health systems and they complement each other


Boutaina El Omari (Global Fund Support Team, Morocco Ministry of Health) reflected on the crucial contributions of community expertise that she has observed during her 20 years on the Global Fund support team at the Moroccan Ministry of Health. Boutaina El Omari underlined that communities have been essential to the design and implementation of Global Fund investments across HIV, TB, health system strengthening and Covid-19.



Boutaina El Omari highlighted the many ways that community involvement has played a crucial role in the success of Global Fund’s investments in Morocco


Oanh Khuat (Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives, Vietnam) spoke about the training and support of Community Malaria Action Teams to address the unique challenges of vulnerable communities in remote forests and rural settings. Dr. Khuat’s emphasis on the impact of communities mobilizing to support peers echoed the role of local Moroccan organizations to support outreach during Covid-19.


Oanh Khuat presented the Community Malaria Action Team, an initiative supported by the Global Fund that illustrates the impact of empowering community members to support their peers


Maureen Milanga (Health GAP, Kenya) explained the empowerment achieved by community-led monitoring (CLM). Maureen Milanga highlighted that CLM’s systematic collection of community perspective advances accountability, provides crucial context to programmatic data, and opens space for insights into solutions.


Maureen Milanga highlighted how community-led monitoring is a tool to empower communities to strengthen the visibility of realities, reinforce accountability, and identify solutions


Stefano Vella closed by stressing that the community capacity developed through over years of investment was crucial to the Covid-19 response, highlighting how investments in communities have the twin impact of catalyzing the disease response to existing pathogens and advancing preparation for novel ones.



Stefano Vella, Vice President of Friends Europe in charge of Italy, chaired the opening and closing of the webinar