Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon | A Global Effort on Women and Chidren's Health - Background
A Global Effort on Women and Chidren's Health
New York, 14-15 April 2010
With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially launched a global effort on women’s and children’s health in New York on April 14, 2010. Joining the Secretary-General to launch this effort were President Kikwete of Tanzania, Prime Minister Stoltenberg of Norway, Vice President Boediono of Indonesia, Ministers and senior officials from Brazil, Canada, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the African Union Commission and leaders from the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, the World Bank, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, GAVI, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other foundations, corporations and civil society organisations.
Following the official launch, the Secretary-General convened 40 key leaders to help define a collective strategy for women’s and children’s health in the lead-up to the MDG Summit in September 2010. This strategy will build on discussions at the Secretary-General’s Forum on Global Health in June 2009, as well as commitments made by Member States at the 2009 ECOSOC Ministerial Review on Global Health, the 2009 UNGA Special Session: Healthy Women, Healthy Children - Investing in our Common Future, the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and on regional commitments and efforts, such as the Maputo Plan of Action and the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).
Discussion focussed on developing a draft Joint Action Plan and accountability framework for consultation with the wider community, and the process for building commitments to this plan. A summary of this discussion follows.
A Call to Action
Bold, focused, and coordinated action is required in order to accelerate progress on the health MDGs, particularly MDGs 1 (c), 4, 5 and 6. The global effort seeks to build upon and revitalise existing commitments to women and children’s health, secure new commitments from a range of influential partners, and provide organization and accountability for delivery at the highest levels. It complements existing regional and country strategies for reaching the MDGs. Participants agreed that the Joint Action Plan should focus on increased political commitment and accountability, integrated delivery, and enhanced financing for women’s and children’s health.
Political commitment and accountability: Commitments sought for the Joint Action Plan will respond to the critical need for increased attention to women’s and children’s health which has been articulated by developing countries. The plan will recognize the diversity of different country situations, and will support an approach where women and children are at the centre of efforts to improve the health of families and communities. The global Consensus for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health will be made operational through strong commitments within national health plans, and through the international health financing and programming architecture. A systematic approach will be developed to track progress and to hold all stakeholders accountable for delivery on policy, outcome and financing commitments at the global level.
Integrated delivery: In line with the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action, the Joint Action Plan will focus on the need for integration within health programming and financing, fostering important links with HIV prevention, treatment and care, as well as with other closely related topics, such as education, gender equality and nutrition. It will consider best practice to achieve this, and focus on results-based and primary health care approaches in order to most effectively strengthen health systems to deliver equitable, universal coverage of critical interventions at the local level by governments and community based partners.
In particular, three forms of integration are vital: integration across the continuum of care (from pre-pregnancy, through childbirth and then for the child, until the age of five); integration of the ways different services are delivered (such as through community health workers, campaigns, and through clinics and hospitals); and the integration of health related programs (such as nutrition and HIV prevention; water, hygiene, and diarrhoea control).
The Joint Action Plan will also examine how innovation can accelerate delivery, as well as how increased operational research will improve the effectiveness of existing and new interventions.
Financing: The Joint Action Plan will seek to identify and fill the financial gap from three sources; (1) countries fulfilling existing commitments; (2) new commitments, including from new partners; (3) more efficient use of existing resources. Building on the recommendations of international and regional taskforces related to the harmonisation of donor and multilateral support, financing should be long-term and predictable, and committed to one comprehensive national strategy/plan, one set of indicators, and one monitoring and accountability mechanism. The Joint Action Plan will call for the removal of financial barriers that prevent the poorest and most vulnerable from accessing essential health services, and will encourage increased domestic financing. It will identify interventions in need of additional resources to achieve MDGs 1 (c), 4, 5 and 6, and establish a consolidated, integrated framework for action, reporting and monitoring across the health MDGs, ensuring that international health financing is clearly aligned with the needs of countries, for example, through emerging mechanisms such as the health systems funding platform.
Seizing the moment of opportunity: next steps
This global effort provides a new engine to reenergize commitments to all MDGs. The period between May and the MDG Summit in September 2010 represents a unique opportunity to agree on and build the necessary commitments for the Joint Action Plan.
Consultation to develop the Joint Action Plan, convened by champions of the global effort, will be coordinated at key engagement opportunities such as the World Health Assembly, the Women Deliver/Countdown to 2015 conference, the Pacific Health Summit, the G8 and G20 summits, the XVIII International AIDS conference and at regional platforms such as the African Union Summit and the Special Ministerial Meeting on MDGs for Asia and the Pacific. At the country-level, a consultation process will be facilitated by UN Country Teams. Stakeholder groups – such as the private sector and research community, are invited to convene and build commitments from within their specific constituencies. The aim of this consultation period will be to build commitment, and expand a wide-ranging group of champions across the many constituencies involved. Member States will work together to ensure that the development of the Action Plan feeds into the intergovernmental process leading up to the MDG Summit. In addition, advocacy and media engagement efforts by all stakeholders should be focused, scaled up and coordinated. The United Nations Foundation (UNF) has offered to help facilitate this coordinated advocacy effort.
The Joint Action Plan will be developed under oversight of the Office of the Secretary-General, and will be officially launched at the time of the MDG Summit and the UN General Assembly in September 2010. The Secretariat to the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health has offered to help facilitate a working group to develop the Joint Action Plan, bringing together the input gained through the consultation period described above. Further work is required in the following areas to develop the Joint Action Plan, and some initial countries/organizations have offered to facilitate open, task-specific working groups to produce this input: 1) the financing gap (World Bank); 2) building a comprehensive accountability framework (Canada, Rwanda and WHO); 3) advocacy and social mobilization (UNF, PMNCH and ONE); and 4) the role of innovation (Norway and Johnson and Johnson).
All stakeholders are welcome and are urged to actively engage in this global effort to dramatically improve women’s and children’s health over the next five years and beyond.