2014 Partners' Forum
30 JUNE - 1 JULY | Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
Session 1A: “Fast-track” countries share stories of success
A packed room of delegates heard about the strategies some low and middle income countries (LMICs) have used to make “fast-track” progress toward improving women’s and children’s health. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia, moderated the session which included two presentations and a high level panel discussion on countries’ successful policies and programmes to reduce maternal and child mortality.
Audience participation through an instant voting system captured their knowledge about global progress in maternal and child mortality. The second presentation featured findings from a recent study on “Factors Influencing Changes in Child Survival in Africa from 1990 to 2011” in 46 African countries.
The panel of health ministers, deputy ministers of health and other high level representatives from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Peru and Viet Nam shared key learnings from their countries’ experience to improve women’s and children’s health over the past two decades. These countries are among 10 LMICs on the fast-track to achieve their MDGs 4 and 5.
The panelists stressed the importance of investing in high impact and evidence-based maternal and child health interventions, such as family planning, immunization and quality care at birth. The programme to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Eliminate Neonatal Tetanus in China, Egypt’s Healthy Mother/Healthy Child Programme, Ethiopia’s “home-grown and indigenous” community-based Health Extension Worker programme, and the use of cash incentives in Nepal to improve access to maternal care, were among the health strategies highlighted. Demand creation and community ownership, combined with targeting underserved communities also contributed to countries’ success.
The importance of multisectoral investments, coordination and “close collaboration between sectors” to improve women’s and children’s health was common across countries. Strategies for poverty reduction and infrastructural development in Peru, gender equity in Lao PDR, free universal education in Bangladesh and a multisectoral approach to nutrition in Viet Nam were among those highlighted.
The experience of these countries shows the importance of political will and leadership to drive the maternal and child health agenda, and as one panelist reinforced, to “translate it into reality at the service delivery level”. This was also reiterated by Dr Ghebreyesus in his closing statement, “if there is a will, there is a way.”