Executive Director’s blog

October 2012

This week, the Ministry of Health of Nigeria will host a meeting of the PMNCH board in Abuja. We are set for a packed agenda. Among other topics, we will look at the role of PMNCH in the post-2015 goal-setting process, and the opportunities for young people in that process. Clearly, shifting demographics represent an opportunity and a challenge. More than 70% of Africa’s population, for instance, is now under the age of 30, with 20% between 15 and 24 and growing faster than in any other part of the world. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth go along with that, as more than 26% of all maternal deaths in Africa occur among girls aged15-19.

How should that poignant fact increase our attention to adolescent reproductive health? And how do we encourage stronger involvement of young people in the work of PMNCH? This topic will be reflected in a new paper to be presented to the board in Abuja. This will join other important issues on the agenda in Abuja, including the important role of PMNCH in the debate on global health governance and accountability in light of the recent recommendations of the independent Expert Review Group on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, as well as in relation to the ongoing discussion in financing channels for RMNCH. We look forward to a lively meeting, with important outcomes for our work in 2013 and beyond.

Our agenda for this board reflects an exceptionally active year for those engaged in women’s and children’s health, including new efforts related to commodities, family planning and child survival. At the same time, regional efforts are in full flight, supported by the African Union’s Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA), the Pan African Parliament and regional parliamentary bodies such as the East Africa Legislative Assembly. In the Asia-Pacific too, APEC and other regional bodies are intensifying discussion on RMNCH as a key driver of economic and social development. Indeed, PMNCH and partners, including WHO, UNICEF, AusAID and the Asian Development Bank, will be hosting an RMNCH policy meeting in Manila on 8-9 November to enhance regional collaboration on investment, implementation and accountability.

All to say, that with so much dynamism and activity in the air, the role of a robust platform for discussion and debate among all stakeholders – from governments to donors to civil society and business -- is more critical than ever. Staying on the same page is never easy, but meetings such as that in Abuja help us to do just that. With only three years left until the Millennium Development Goal target date of 2015, PMNCH will continue to play its part in providing a joint stage on which we can reflect and act together.