On Monday February 22nd 2021, the Platform sent to the major actors within ACT-A a letter providing details about the changes civil society and communities are asking for in order to increase transparency and accountability in decision-making to ensure the ACT-A is more inclusive going forward. We have called for a new culture of transparency throughout the structure so that if the ACT-A is to be legitimate, accountable and ultimately effective there needs to be a drastic improvement to the depth of engagement with civil society, communities and delegations from LMICs. We have asked for full transparency in contracts negotiated with pharmaceutical companies or research institutions, a detailed map of the current decision-making pathways, governance oversight and processes of consultation from priority setting, resource allocation through to procurement and deployment. We’ve requested civil society and community seats at the “real” decision-making tables. In its first year, ACT-A has been successful in many ways – for it to really drive and achieve its underlying equity mandate, its time to be more clear, more transparent and more inclusive.
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.
Following the launch of the updated ACT-A strategy, civil society and community representatives to the Health Systems and Response Connector (HSRC) (previously the Health Systems Connector (HSC)) wrote a letter to the lead agencies highlighting critical additions to the HSRC strategy. A copy of the letter can be found here
Ahead of the ACT-A Facilitation Council meeting on Friday 15 October, the Platform has shared a letter with the Facilitation Council Co-chairs and lead agencies of ACT-A outlining key issues to be addressed in the ongoing strategy development process.
The letter is supported by over 50 civil society and community organisations and can be found here.
Over a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic and the establishment of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), questions about future pandemic preparedness responses are dominating global public health discussions. The ACT-A recently undertook a review for the stated purpose of potentially extending its mandate until the end of 2022, primarily on the basis of an assessment of performance against stated goals, with the final report, ‘ACT-Accelerator Strategic Review’ published on 8 October 2021.
The review was conducted by Dalberg, who executed the report in line with the Terms of Reference (ToR) with efforts to ensure the civil society and community representatives to ACT-A were consulted through interviews, focus groups and written submissions. However the nature and scope of this review developed by ACT-A partners has neglected fundamental questions and lacked adequate time for public consultation with stakeholders impacted by ACT-A.
The Platform for ACT-A Civil Society and Community Representatives publish the following statement in response to the strategic review.
The full statement can be found here.
Statement on Global COVID-19 Summit from ACT-A Civil Society Representatives
Following the Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better on 22 September, the civil society representatives to ACT-A published a statement, recognising that whilst the the Summit aimed to catalyse and welcome momentum to progress the pandemic response, its targets fall far short in addressing the shortcomings of the current response. We call on the G-7 and G-20 countries to develop more ambitious targets with more urgency with a time bound roadmap and accountability.
The full statement can be found here
Communities and Civil Society representatives in the ACT-A Diagnostics Pillar wrote to the Head of the WHO and others about the inequitable expansion of antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag RDT’s) use across the world with many global north countries regularly testing in workplaces, schools and even self-testing at home while the current WHO guidelines in lower and middle income countries recommends the use of Ag RDTs only within specific circumstances and do not provide explicit guidance for community-based testing with Ag RDT’s.
Reps urgently asked the WHO to:
1. Issue updated guidelines with expanded use recommendations to close the yawning gap in recommendations in the Global North versus the Global South;
2. Ensure that all members of the ACT-A Dx Pillar, including CSO representatives, have the opportunity to review and provide feedback to upcoming updates of the WHO guidelines on the use of Ag RDTs;]
3. Decrease complexity in language in the WHO guidelines to guarantee successful implementation in countries.
The Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) was recently relaunched and community and civil society representatives in ACT-A released a statement welcoming the re-launch and urging immediate support for C-TAP. Read the full statement which includes key asks of manufacturers, donors and governments to support, fund and operationalise C-TAP urgently here.
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
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.