2014 Partners' Forum
30 JUNE - 1 JULY | Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
Plenary 4: Leveraging Investments for Health and Sustainable Development
The fourth plenary at the Partners’ Forum, “Leveraging Investments for Health and Sustainable Development” looked specifically at how to improve coordination with and between the different health-enhancing sectors.
The session started with a personal and moving story from the Chair Nyaradzayi Gumbonsvanda, General Secretary, Young Women’s Christian Association on how one of the young women in her village ended up dying at age 19 in childbirth due to the lack of electricity at the health facility, clean water, medications and access to proper transportation to the health facility. She stressed that we who work in the health sector need to understand that health is too important to leave to the health sector, and that we need to engage other sectors who impact health, and keep them accountable.
She was followed by Dr Julian Schweitzer, Principal, Results for Development who explained why involving sectors beyond, but related to health is core to place healthy women and children at the centre of the new development goals and to accelerate progress. Dr Schweitzer showcased studies from countries on the “fast track” to reaching the MDGs on women’s and children’s health. These countries show that 50% of improved outcomes for child mortality reductions across 142 low- and middle-income countries since 1990 have come from contributions outside of the health sector – including nutrition, girls’ education, water and sanitation, transportation and women’s empowerment, amongst others. However, achieving the necessary cross-sector coordination can be challenging, since governments, administrations and international agencies are often rigidly organized along sector lines.
Following these two addresses was a roundtable discussion with the panellists on their views and experiences on what has and has not worked well and what have been the successes and challenges of working across multiple sectors to improve health. The panellists included Lediana Mafuru Mng’ong’o, Member of Parliament, Tanzania, Gary Cohen, Executive Vice-President, Becton Dickinson, Anuradha Gupta, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, GAVI, Marijke Wijnroks, Chief of Staff, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Peter McDermott, Executive Director for Health, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.
The panellists called for stronger political commitment at the country level to keep more than the health sector accountable of providing access to quality health services. Mr Cohen told the audience that violence against children and particularly sexual violence against girls is a key example where interventions and programs outside of the health sector are required to overcome the negative health impacts of violence. Ms. Gupta stressed that countries need to look at the determinants behind the bad health outcomes, and get a clear understanding of why they occur before they start implementation.
The Panellist stressed the importance of countries removing bureaucratic barriers to be able to work across multiple sectors – including education, water supply, sanitation, nutrition, energy, roads and women’s empowerment – for good cross-sector planning and implementation to improve health outcomes.