Executive Director’s blog

February 2013

With the last thousand days of the Millennium Development Goal era counting down, the international community has been increasingly looking back on this remarkable period in global health and development and engaging in discussions about how we can apply lessons learned to the post-2015 agenda.

Much of the forward-looking conversation in recent weeks has reflected a growing trend toward emphasizing the role of human rights, the importance of national ownership and accountability, and the need for localized innovation in improving women’s and children’s health.

During a provocative panel discussion on the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) continuum of care at a maternal health conference in Arusha, Tanzania last month, Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet and chair of the independent Expert Review Group on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, challenged the global health community to redefine this framework for the post-2015 era. He called for the placement of women’s rights at the centre of the continuum, as well as stronger attention to quality of care, HIV, malaria, and the social determinants of health.

The continuum of care being our guiding precept at PMNCH, this is a challenge we are eager to tackle with our partners as we chart the way forward for RMNCH in the new global development landscape. Thoughts on the value and limitations of the continuum of care and MDG frameworks can be shared with the Task Team of the Global Thematic Consultation on Health, which is preparing its report for the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Our contribution to the first draft of this thematic report is evident in the discussion on the importance of remaining true to the unfinished business of the MDG agenda, while focusing on the goal of healthy life expectancy for women and children. We urge all PMNCH members to study the report and provide comments by the 19 February deadline.

As the global conversation continues on how to tackle health beyond 2015, our recently approved 2013 PMNCH Workplan and Budget outlines our priorities for the year ahead, mainly: reproductive and sexual health, with a focus on adolescents; newborn health; and social and environmental determinants, with a particular focus on equity and rights, education, and nutrition. We will be contributing, for instance, an economic analysis on the benefits of investing in nutrition as part of the G8 engagement process this spring. On newborn health, PMNCH looks forward to playing a leading role on advocacy for the emerging Global Newborn Action Plan, to be launched later in 2013 together with partners from government, the UN, civil society, health professional networks, and academia.

The more we work together, the more we can accelerate progress. We look forward to working with our partners on these and other initiatives throughout 2013 and beyond.