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We are Recruiting: ACT-A Facilitation Council Civil Society Representatives

The Platform for Community and Civil Society Representatives to ACT-A (the “Platform”) is currently inviting applications for two Civil Society representatives (one NGO Representative and one Community Representative) to advocate the viewpoints and needs of NGOs and Communities within the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council. Please note, the terms of reference and application form for this role have been updated in December 2020.

The Civil Society Representatives will:

  • Participate in all Facilitation Council meetings and teleconferences
  • Seek input from civil society and communities on all key issues and questions raised in the Facilitation Council (with support from the Platform)
  • Provide feedback on their activities and positions taken to civil society and communities through teleconferences, mailing lists and social media channels 
  • Actively participate in the Platform 

This process is coordinated by the Platform (co-hosted by GFAN, WACI Health and STOPAIDS) and criteria and timelines were developed in consultation with current governance representatives to the co-lead global health institutions in ACT-A and current community and civil society representatives sitting in the various pillars of the ACT-A. 

How to apply: 

If you are interested in applying please review the terms of reference which can be found here and submit the following to Courtenay (courtenay@stopaids.org.uk):

  • Completed application form which can be found here
  • Short CV/resume (maximum 2 pages)
  • Letter of reference from the NGO to which you are affiliated (if applying as an NGO representative) or from a Community representative or colleague (if applying as a Community representative)

The deadline for applications is 5pm GMT on Tuesday 5 January 2021.

If you have any questions or need any further information, please email Courtenay (courtenay@stopaids.org.uk)

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Civil Society and Community remarks at the 8th ACT-A Facilitation Council meeting (December 2021)

The Facilitation Council of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) met on 9 December 2021. The meeting included a discussion on two key questions:

• What are the most urgent political actions which need to be taken to meet
the global targets?
• What role can Council members play to encourage the financing of the ACTAccelerator’s Strategic Plan, including in the run up to a possible pledging
event in early 2022?

Peter Owiti (Community Representative) and Dr Fifa Rahman (NGO Representative) made interventions during this discussion.

Dr Fifa Rahman highlighted the urgent political message of intellectual property, calling on the United States and the EU to invest urgent political capital in advancing work on textual negotiations on the TRIPS waiver. Dr Rahman also echoed the words of President Masisi of Botswana – travel bans arising from the identification of the Omicron variant are demeaning, degrading, and espouse neo-imperialist thinking, highlighting that these travel bans defeat the paeans of solidarity.

Peter Owiti highlighted support for a pledging event in 2022 with meaningful engagement of Communities, and called for a topline number of funding required given that it appears ACT-A will only account for half the total budgeted need. Peter Owiti also emphasised the need for collaborative and multi-sectoral interventions such as rigorous testing campaigns, COVID-19 literacy as well as market shaping, to ensure that all populations will be reached, tested & treated (and/ or vaccinated) in an equitable manner.

Dr Fifa Rahman’s full remarks on behalf of NGOs can be found here

Peter Owiti’s full remarks on behalf of Communities can be found here

The livestream of the Facilitation Council meeting can be found here. Dr Fifa Rahman’s remarks start at 1:34. Peter Owiti’s remarks start at 2:05.

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ACT-A Facilitation Council 6th Meeting (May 2021)

The ACT-A Facilitation Council held its 6th meeting on May 12th 2021.

Dr Fifa Rahman and Peter Ngola O’witi spoke in their capacity as Communities and Civil Society representatives during the meeting; Dr Rahman on barriers and strategies for increasing uptake and use of COVID-19 tools at country level and Peter O’witi on COVAX manufacturing task force.

We commend the United States on its decision to support a TRIPS waiver, which is the first step in scaling up access to these vaccines. We call upon the EU, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and others to follow suit – and to support a TRIPS waiver, not just for vaccines, but also for diagnostics and therapeutics. And while we wait for text-based negotiations at the WTO, tech transfer needs to happen now. We note that ‘voluntary tech transfer’ is listed as a mid-term response for the taskforce – we think this needs to be made an immediate priority. 

 – Peter Ngola O’witi

The recording of the livestream event is available in several languages here: https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2021/05/12/default-calendar/6th-access-to-covid-19-tools-(act)-accelerator-facilitation-council-meeting You can also find information provided in pre-briefs at the same link.

Delivering an optimal COVID-19 response requires not just a public health approach, but a worker-justice and gender-justice approach, given that a majority of these workers are women. Community health workers can be crucial pieces of the puzzle to increase uptake of health technologies. Their value cannot be underestimated.

– Dr Fifa Rahman
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G7 Action on current and future Oxygen Crises urged by C/CSO Facilitation Council Representatives

Working with community and civil society colleagues who focus on oxygen access, ACT-A Facilitation Council Representatives Dr. Fifa Rahman and Peter O’Witi wrote to Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK – as host of this years G7 – to urge action to address current oxygen crises and investment and action to mitigate potential future oxygen crises.

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Dr Rahman and Peter Owiti remarks at 5th ACT-A Facilitation Council call for new collaborations on Test & Treat and a transformation and de-colonization of the vaccine response (March 2021)

The Facilitation Council of the Access to Covid Technologies Accelerator (ACT-A) met on March 23rd 2021. The agenda featured panels discussing issues holding us back on diagnostics and therapeutics and what is needed to scale-up vaccine supply to COVAX.

Community and Civil Society Representatives to the ACT-A Council were able to make interventions during each agenda item. Peter Owiti called on the Pillar leads for Diagnostic and Therapeutics to collaborate better and work on a Test & Treat strategy for the tens of millions of people with mild and moderate disease, including long-COVID. Dr Fifa Rahman called for our response on vaccines to be transformed and manufacturing de-colonized and pointed out the lack of community and civil society, as well as low and middle-income country, inclusion in key conversations about potential new working groups including a vaccines capacity connector.

The livestream of the event can be found here – with several translations available and background documentation is often added in the hours/days after the event. Peter’s comments can be found at about 1h23min of the video and Fifa’s at about 2h10min.

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Remarks from Interim CSO Representatives to the Facilitation Council of the ACT-A (February 2021)

Delivered at the 4th Facilitation Council Meeting
on February 9th, 2021

Remarks from Fifa Rahman – CSO Representative (Diagnostics Pillar) – Board Member, NGO Delegation, Unitaid & Carolyn Gomes – CSO Representative (Diagnostics Pillar) Alternate Board Member, Developing Country NGO Board Delegation to the Global Fund

Click here to view the Facilitation Council Meeting in full

Carolyn Gomes ~ Prepared remarks:

All of the amazing work  and technological achievements of the last year since the formation of the ACT Accelerator is under threat. 

It is under threat from the SARS Cov 2 Virus which blindly seeks out any path to success, changing continuously, relentlessly, remorselessly, until one or more of its changes results in success.   

Success for the virus is increased danger for the world and our efforts.  

Success for the virus has rendered our efforts across all the pillars of The ACT Accelerator, less effective.  The South African variant has threatened our vaccine successes to the point that South Africa may not be able to use at least one of the vaccines developed with our technology to control the suffering and death in its country and protect its heroic work force. 

Success for the virus has rendered some of our hard fought gains in therapeutics ineffective just as we were beginning to roll them out and now we have to look to develop different monoclonal antibodies, more effective therapeutics.  

Success for the virus threatens our testing regimes and adds new urgency and challenges in the need to track and understand the ways in which the virus is mutating and spreading in populations in ways that make it impossible to test, track, trace and control. 

Perhaps, most dangerously, the success of the virus has brought another virus to the fore in the world.  This virus, of selfishness, of nationalism, of me-first-ism sees new technologies for vaccines locked in vaults and not made available for manufacture in countries that have huge swaths of the uncontrolled spread and large quantities of the world’s underserved and marginalized and vulnerable. 

This virus of me-first-ism sees limited money being spent in a way that is safeguarding all of us against the future: limited money on the tools needed to get us beyond the acute pandemic period; limited money on the need to adapt and increase the efficacy of existing tools; limited money on the need to respond to the unknown long-term impacts of COVID-19 on individuals (both mental and physical), health systems and economies more broadly.  

And the me-first-ism virus threatens to derail all our preparations, including economic recovery, for the next epidemic. 

ACT Accelerator has the power to defeat this me-first-ism virus.  Indeed it has demonstrated the power of collaboration in bringing to the world the tools we have now, 11 months later.   

But to defeat this virus and effectively out run the SARS CoV 2 virus it must, we must steer the ACT-A towards these ends by ensuring that: 

  • That equity is not only our first principle but also our LIVED reality for tools, for therapeutics, for vaccines 
  • All procurement contracts need to be fully transparent and open to thorough scrutiny, 
  • That all contracts include stipulations around open licensing and deep technology transfer 
  • That the voices of the LMICS and LICs find full expression and equal space in our work and at our decision making spaces 

In this effort, it is NOT enough to donate our leftovers of vaccine or funds to those who cannot afford.  We MUST ensure that ACT-A commitments to engage on the basis of a common understanding that unless we defeat the virus everywhere, we defeat the virus NOWHERE.   

We must engage in a way that internalizes, and addresses,  that without equity, without continuous, relentless, remorseless changing, strengthening and including, the virus of me-first-ism will overwhelm our efforts to end the Pandemic.  

The terrifying prospect that SARS-COV-2 will beat us, defeat us, is real. 

Fifa Rahman ~ Prepared Remarks:

Thank you Chair.  

There’s something missing in this strategy – and that’s specific allocations and plans for the health and welfare of people living with Long COVID. And while there are still so many unknowns about the long-term prognosis of Long COVID and its pathophysiology, but emerging evidence is showing a considerable health burden, with evidence of organ dysfunction and aberrant immune responses. More than a year into this pandemic, the narrative that COVID-19 leads to binary outcomes of death or survival is not adequate.  

The Office of National Statistics in the UK has estimated that 1 in 10 individuals have persisting symptoms beyond 12 weeks of infection with SARS-CoV-2.  

The tools of the ACT-Accelerator can act as primary prevention tools both for death from COVID-19, but also the long-term effects of Long COVID. This will stop a huge amount of human suffering, but is also a strong case for investment and co-operation as Long COVID will be a huge burden on health systems, and indeed economies (if people are less economically active in the future as a result), providing a further strong moral, humanitarian and economic case for equitably distributing the tools required to combat COVID-19.  

That the strategy doesn’t account for Long COVID is a glaring oversight which must immediately be remedied. And in line with the theme of the next session, our promise to the world at risk must include promises to people with Long COVID, and we as NGOs look forward to working with you on this.  

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Remarks from Interim CSO Representatives to the Facilitation Council of the ACT-A (November 2020)

Delivered at the 2nd Facilitation Council Meeting on November 3rd 2020

Remarks from Fifa Rahman – CSO Representative (Diagnostics Pillar) – Board Member, NGO Delegation, Unitaid & Carolyn Gomes – CSO Representative (Diagnostics Pillar) Alternate Board Member, Developing Country NGO Board Delegation to the Global Fund

Carolyn Gomes ~ Prepared remarks:

The impacts of this crisis have been and continue to be, devastating economically everywhere but perhaps most acutely in small island economies mostly or wholly dependent on Tourism for their economic growth and development as has been previously mentioned. We fully appreciate that without the tools to control the pandemic the people that we serve and the countries that we live in will slide deeper and deeper into an economic hole that we cannot climb out of, a debt trap that we cannot escape and a human disaster that will bring instability and almost insurmountable challenges for recovery.

Without resources, we won’t be able to achieve the objectives laid out by the ACT-A partnership. Civil Society are willing to engage in efforts to change this prospect, but these efforts have to be conducted in a proactive and engaging way, in the spirit of reciprocity and with a full understanding that we are all in this together, that the pandemic uncontrolled anywhere is the pandemic uncontrolled everywhere.

This is the fundamental driver of civil society engagement with the ACT-A.

At the moment there are two key funding problems – the first is not having enough for the ACT-A as a whole and the second is the imbalance of funding split between the Covax pillar and the other pillars – so much so that, the diagnostic pillar does not have all the funds it needs to pay for the deal it recently brokered Diagnostics combined with effective contact tracing measures have the potential to limit the demand for Therapeutics and give space for vaccination activities and should be seen as critical to the immediate needs and prioritized. Moving forward full transparency in the available and required funds to meet the goals and planned steps in mobilizing resources is needed.

Unfortunately, it has become increasingly clear over the last couple of months that the projected demand for COVID-19 innovations will not be met by expected ACT-A supply.

Behind this supply gap lie a number of unknowns including the Mid to long term health, social and economic consequences of COVID-19 on its survivors/sufferers. Early studies suggest as much as 40% of those who get COVID suffer debilitating recurrent effects for weeks to months after they have had the illness. Countries should be encouraged to fund ACT-A not only to help reduce deaths, but also to decrease morbidity and in the long run to safeguard their citizens and economies.

CSOs are intellectual partners and not only drivers of financing. However, the full involvement and power of civil society advocacy can only be relied upon with certain provisions – namely respect of the role of CS in the health response and inclusion in decision-making and governance. This means them being at the table where decisions are being made and their voices being heard so that they are part of any decision being reached.

Unfortunately, CSOs have had to fight to get representatives in some of the pillars of ACT-A and only last week were representatives finalised for the ACT-Accelerator. This has not helped CS buy-in to the ACT-A. And while we welcome positive news on the advanced market commitments for Covax pillar as highlighted by Andrew Witty earlier – a lack of inclusion of CSOs mean that we have been unable to provide the scrutiny these deals need.

Side-lining Civil Society ignores the strength they have at National, Regional and international levels in all areas of health to impact on awareness raising, decision-making, service delivery and governance. Civil society is already playing an important role conducting advocacy with country governments to get them to commit more resources and engage fully in developing use cases for diagnostics and therapeutics and understand demand. We are not, however, funded to do any of this work on the ACT-Accelerator.

Institutional or multilateral funding to CS to support these activities is needed to support the sustainability and scale of advocacy and engagement activities.

It will be very important, if we are to succeed together in this critical and visionary and economically sensible mission of ACT-A that we see strategic resource mobilisation plans and would urge co-convenors to make plans clear.

In addition a concrete communications strategy and action plan, with measurable objectives and ways to evaluate impact will be needed for effective engagement of all stakeholders at the National, regional and international levels.

We urge the Co-Chairs and all members of this ACT-A Facilitation Council to ensure that our search for solutions involves not only those in this virtual room but the world writ large and that all voices, hearts and minds are brought into the work to ensure accelerated progress, equity and access. Our children’s future, indeed the future of Dr Tedros’ granddaughter, the world’s recovery demands no less of us.

Fifa Rahman ~ Prepared Remarks:

Thank you Chair. I have a couple of additional points to what my colleague Carolyn has said; we as NGOs fear that the focus on funding means that we are ignoring key policy challenges. While it is true that we have a shortfall of funding on the ACT-Accelerator, we have to acknowledge that there is a massive manufacturing and supply gap to LMICs. For diagnostics, for example, 120 million antigen rapid diagnostic tests are only a part of actual need and manufacturing capacity of the two companies providing antigen RDTs.

It was a privilege to hear the words of Sabin Nsanzimana from Rwanda about how critically important diagnostics have been in the response there – and the fact that they have managed to limit deaths. And yet we continue to see constrained funding towards the Diagnostics pillar of the ACT-A.


For these products to be globally scalable, we need to maximise all the tools available to us – we need to share technology and enable technology transfer to manufacturers in the Global South. The C-TAP or COVID technology access pool seems paralysed by a lack of political support from research institutions and pharmaceutical companies. If resources remain severely constrained, we will need to shift priorities. The volume guarantee approach will not work long term if resources are not drastically increased – and in such a situation, suppliers and innovators should openly licence to qualified producers. Tech transfer to LMICs is the only way to scale up production to the levels needed and to beat this pandemic.

We call upon Member States to insist that deals under the ACT-Accelerator include tech transfer provisions and increase scrutiny on manufacturing capacity and actual need of treatments, diagnostics, and vaccines in their countries.


We express disappointment that a number of countries have expressed opposition to the COVID patent waiver proposed by India and South Africa. In the past, those who have opposed overriding patents often use the excuse that TRIPS flexibilities should only be used in emergencies. The question is – what is the excuse now? What larger emergency is there than this global COVID-19 pandemic, which in turn is causing a global economic emergency? A patent waiver benefits us all – even high income countries that are opposing this.

We think it’s important to remind Member States that the alternative to the patent waiver is approaching each COVID technology with a compulsory or voluntary licensing approach – this is a time-consuming approach that is at odds with the need for us to prevent mortality and reopen economies in this pandemic. This approach ignores the financial and power disparities that exist between countries in access to health technologies – and if we don’t waive these patents, at least temporarily, we will continue to see reduced access for LMICs compared to wealthier nations.

Political leaders at the start of this pandemic spoke at length about these technologies being ‘global public goods’ and underlining that the ACT-Accelerator was about solidarity. True solidarity within this Accelerator cannot occur without eliminating these important policy and political barriers.

Thank you.