Collaborators: gates funds a health coalition

The foundation is putting $11m into the European Network for Global Health.

European health development NGOs have received nearly $11m to co-ordinate their messages to their own governments. But the funds come from the other side of the Atlantic.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the new European Network for Global Health, a coalition of 15 charities from France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the UK.

The network's mission is to press European governments to focus more closely on the implementation of the health-related Millennium Development Goals.

Next year represents the mid-point for achieving the goals, which were signed in 2000 with a deadline of 2015. Some NGOs think that, without a radical resurgence of commitment, the goals will not be met.

In the UK, three charities with widely different remits have joined the network: TB Alert, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Interact Worldwide. Interact, which works on maternal health, is leading the trio.

"It will be interesting to see how the policy officers from each organisation work together as a team," says Felicity Daly, policy and advocacy manager at Interact. The charities have formed a steering committee.

However, ActionAid International, based in London, is co-ordinating the European consortium, which includes charities such as Marie Stopes International and Medecins du Monde.

ActionAid holds the contract with the Gates Foundation. It is responsible for ensuring the contract's aims are met and that partners contribute as much as possible to the project.

A project co-ordinator at the charity will work with a project accountability team to ensure things go smoothly.

According to Daly, the essence of the network is to enable participating NGOs to develop an overview of how to achieve the health-related goals and how to persuade European governments and the EU to use such a holistic approach. "This will help further refine our messages and reach a broader section of policy actors," she says. "We will develop different arguments, or maybe the same arguments, crafted differently for different civil servants."

The network may consider opening up to a wider membership in a year's time.

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