High-level Forum on the Health MDGs - January 2004
Senior officials from seventeen developing countries and a number of development partners, at the first meeting of the High-Level Forum (HLF) on the Health MDGs on 8 and 9 January 2004 in Geneva, noted that progress on the health MDGs is slow and agreed on steps to accelerate action. Increased resources for health are needed, and to this end, donor commitments made at the 2002 Monterrey Conference should be accelerated. Participants concluded that large inflows of grant aid are unlikely to have destabilizing macroeconomic effects, so developing country absorptive capacity need not be a barrier to expanding health investment.
Participants recommended practical steps to ensure that strategies to reach the MDGs are more prominent in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP), and agreed that countries should have a single PRSP process. With respect to donor harmonization, developing countries should take the lead in addressing this issue by raising the issue with donors. Human resource constraints in the health sector are a major challenge, and the HLF supported plans to set up a Working Group on Human Resources in Health to address this issue. It was also recommended that a link be established between the HLF Secretariat and the Global Commission on International Migration to explore the impact of migration on health. Developed countries were urged to end active recruitment of health workers from countries with staff shortages, while developing countries should implement measures to reduce migration of health staff. Finally, participants agreed that health information systems need to be strengthened, better-coordinated and more reflective of country needs and priorities. They endorsed plans to establish the Health Metrics Network.
The HLF provides an informal opportunity to build and strengthen partnerships among senior policy-makers to accelerate action towards achievement of the health-related MDGs. The HLF was established in May 2003 by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the World Bank. It is proposed that the next HLF meeting be held in Nigeria in late 2004. It will review progress on the recommendations made at the January meeting and will include a focus on poor performers and countries in crisis.