Executive Director’s blog

January 2012

Carole Presern, Director PMNCH

Dear PMNCH Members and friends,

As 2012 starts, I wanted to share with you a note that was recently shared with the Board, to extend our thanks to all of you for your fantastic support for women’s and children’s health in 2011 and to look forward, now that we have our new Strategy and Workplan, to an equally fruitful 2012.

When I started as PMNCH Director in February 2011, I knew it would be a real challenge to maintain momentum for women’s and children’s health. But the momentum - which reached a peak with the 2010 launch of the Global Strategy and the Every Woman, Every Child effort - has been unstoppable. There was an unprecedented level of commitments in 2010, with another 100 commitments promised in September 2011, many extremely significant in financial terms as well as in policy and service delivery commitments. And many of you were central to formulating and delivering on these additional commitments.

It is a definite tribute to PMNCH members - your leadership and your efforts - to have seen the momentum not just maintained, but augmented, with a much deeper sense of accountability for the issues that we all care about. There have also been many examples of sustained political and personal leadership at all levels: the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General himself, Ban Ki-moon, leaders of governments, NGOs, the private sector, academics, multilaterals, health care professionals, donors and foundations. So, 2011 was an exciting year, and I want to thank each and every one of you for contributing to the Partnership’s achievements in work to improve women’s and children’s health. 2011 has been a roller coaster, but a wonderful one.

Early in 2012, we will share a report with you, which will capture the major achievements and lessons learned through 2011. I would also like to highlight briefly below a few recent achievements, events and developments linked to women’s and children’s health (Every Woman, Every Child) and the work of The Partnership, although you will have seen some of these featured on our website, and in the E-Blast.

  • Consensus and launch of a package of essential interventions for reproductive, maternal, newborn and children’s health (RMNCH): Arriving at this consensus is the very essence of the value added of The Partnership and we are excited to have launched the package and look forward to further disseminate it. Link to the integrated package of RMNCH interventions.
  • PMNCH and the Follow up to the Commission on Information and Accountability (COIA): The independent Expert Review Group (iERG) met in Ottawa, and a number of you joined the International Stakeholders Meeting on Implementing the Recommendations of the COIA. The meeting was extremely successful and resulted in a high-level action plan to implement the COIA recommendations. PMNCH will have a key role to play in regard to advocacy and action for accountability.
  • The Red Cross focuses on women’s and children’s health: PMNCH was invited to the 31st Conference of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) at the end of November, where IFRC and PMNCH launched the report: Eliminating health inequities: Every woman and every child counts. Although not yet formally a partner of PMNCH, we are very pleased that the IFRC is focusing on women’s and children’s health and also passed a landmark resolution calling on members to reduce the health inequities for women and children. Link to the Resolution and download the Report
  • African parliaments continue their focus on women’s and children’s health: Working with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, PMNCH continues efforts to mobilize national Parliaments. The Kenyan and Ugandan Parliaments met in early December, resulting in strengthened resolve to fulfil their respective countries’ commitments to the Global Strategy, including legislative, budgetary and regulatory measures within their mandate. Link to details on the outcomes of the Kenya and Uganda Parliamentary sessions on PMNCH web.
  • Human rights and maternal mortality: Working with partners, PMNCH has been involved in the follow-up to the UN Human Rights Council inviting submissions for the development of the technical guidance of a human rights-based approach in policies and programmes to reduce preventable maternal mortality and morbidity. A preliminary draft will be discussed at an expert workshop in April 2012. PMNCH will continue working with our partners in the next steps and ensure wide stakeholder input in the consultations. Link to more information on the process .

PMNCH Board news

Our co-chairs Vinod Paul and Purnima Mane completed their terms with the PMNCH Board. They both deserve our sincere thanks. They have been stalwart supporters of PMNCH, engaging with much energy, a profound depth of knowledge, and always with the interests of women and children at the forefront of their concerns. The new Co-Chairs, nominated by the Board, are: the Government of India, represented by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, the Hon Ghulam Nabi Azad, and the World Health Organization, represented by Assistant Director-General, Dr Flavia Bustreo.

We said goodbye and welcomed several Board members recently: Sweden and USAID both rotated off the Board. Many thanks to USAID, represented at various times by Richard Greene and Al Bartlett, and Sweden, represented by Anders Nordström ( and Anneka Knutsson) for their constructive engagement and for Sweden's facilitation of the Donors and Foundation Constituency. We have also welcomed International Planned Parenthood Federation (Tewodros Melesse), the MacArthur Foundation (Judith Helzner), AusAID (Benedict David), and in 2012, we welcome back Canada (CIDA) to the Board, and DFID to the Executive Committee. Please link here to our PMNCH Governance Calendar and mark the Board meetings. All Board documents and Committee Notes will be posted there throughout the year.

Strategic Objective Coordinators

Coordinators have been identified to help coordinate and facilitate the implementation of the new PMNCH Workplan. Please join me in welcoming the following organizations and their representatives as new SO Coordinators:

  • SO 1 Broker Knowledge: World Health Organization (Elizabeth Mason); Government of India (Anuradha Gupta); Maternal Health Task Force at HSPH (Ana Langer). Secretariat focal point: Shyama Kuruvilla (kuruvillas@who.int).
  • SO 2 Advocacy: NORAD (Lars Gronseth); Family Care International (Ann Starrs); Save the Children (Patrick Watt). Secretariat focal point: Lori McDougall (mcdougallL@who.int).
  • SO 3 Accountability: CIDA (Jennifer Goosen); Government of Tanzania (Neema Rusibamayila); World Vision (Stefan Germann) Secretariat focal point: Henrik Axelson (axelsonh@who.int).

The Coordinators will now be meeting to help identify partners to lead on deliverables. We have some expressions of interest, but the Coordinators and the Secretariat focal points will be reaching out soon to solicit partner help and ideas.

Secretariat news

In the Secretariat we were joined in March 2011 by Nick Green our new Administrative Officer – from Australia (via Copenhagen, Kuala Lumpur).

And, a final note: we were ‘supplemented’ by three beautiful babies in 2011, who remind us all what we are here for, healthy children and healthy (if a little sleep deprived) parents - Kadi and Henrik became parents for the first time, and Lori for the fourth time,

So, from all the team in the Secretariat - Andres, Shyama, Lori, Marta, Henrik, Kadi, Nick, Tammy and Nicholas we are really looking forward to a very exciting 2012, which we know will be productive, with your continued commitment and efforts.

Kind regards

Carole Presern Director, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health

Taken from the PMNCH January 2012 EBlast