Investing in Our Common Future: Healthy Women, Healthy Children


United Nations High-level Event

igh Level Task Force on Innovative Financing for Health Systems. Panel discussion.
23 September 2009. Panel discussion hosted by H.E. Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, UK. UN Photo/M. Garten

23 SEPTEMBER 2009 | UN HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK - At a landmark event at the UN in New York convened by The Partnership in conjunction with the Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems, some 300 high-level participants announced an unprecedented array of commitments to save maternal and child lives in developing countries and achieve the internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 & 5. As well as pledging more than US $5 billion in multi-year funding, leaders committed to a global Consensus for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

The co-chairs of the Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems hosted the event: U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Robert Zoellick, President of The World Bank. They and other high-level participants proposed innovative measures to finance health programs and committed to a formal ‘Consensus for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH)’ presented by the WHO Director General, Dr Margaret Chan.

The finance proposals with a multi-year impact expected to total more than US $ 5 billion included: a significant expansion of the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm); a second Advance Market Commitment (AMC) to fund research and development for vaccines and other health products; and a scheme enabling individuals to make “Voluntary Solidarity Contributions” when they purchase air flights and other travel products. Leaders of Nepal, Malawi, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone also committed to new measures to expand access to health services in their countries.

The Consensus - spearheaded by the PMNCH and first agreed by G8 leaders in July 2009 - recognizes the need to align current momentum in politics, advocacy and finance behind a commonly agreed set of policies and agreed interventions to accelerate progress on the ground. It lists five priority actions that are needed to accelerate progress on the MDGs for maternal and child health: (1) political leadership and community engagement; (2) a quality package of evidence-based interventions, delivered through effective health systems; (3) the removal of barriers to access, with services ideally being free at point of use for all women and children; (4) skilled and motivated health workers, in the right place at the right time; and (5) accountability for results.

The Partnership played a key role in the work of the Task Force through its working groups, chaired by Professor Anne Mills, Dean Julio Frenk and Dr. Anders Nordstrom. PMNCH Board Chair Joy Phumaphi said of the event: "Maternal and child health programs are the best investments countries can make to improve overall health and help people lift themselves out of poverty. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health is thrilled that governments and donors have made historic commitments to save the lives of women and children around the world. The Partnership will be monitoring disbursement of these new funds to country level and documenting impacts on underserved populations."

From the links on the right, above, find: Quotes and commitments made at the event; The full text of the MNCH Consensus; Link the relevant documents, including the 'Outcome Document' and the PMNCH and partner press releases.

President Bachelet of Chile closed the event with a mention of Chile's commitments in MNCH, particularly in the region, and emphasized the need to now track commitments to ensure they are fulfilled. The UN Event was organized by the High-level Taskforce and The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health in partnership with the governments of Chile, Finland, and Tanzania. The high-level participants included heads of state and ministers from 12 countries, the heads of international organizations and high-level advocates:

  • President Michelle Bachelet (Chile)
  • Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia)
  • President John Atta Mills (Ghana)
  • President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Liberia)
  • President Bingu wa Mutharika (Malawi)
  • Prime Minister Madhav Nepal (Nepal)
  • Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Norway)
  • President Ernest Bai Koroma (Sierra Leone)
  • President Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania)
  • Minister Stephen Smith (Australia- Foreign Affairs)
  • Minister Guilio Tremonti (Italy- Economy)
  • Minister Bernard Kouchner (France – Foreign Affairs)
  • United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
  • World Bank President Robert Zoellick,
  • World Bank Vice-president, Joy Phumaphi
  • World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan
  • Celebrity advocates:
    • Mrs Sarah Brown
    • Super models Liya Kebede and Christy Turlington-Burns