African Parliamentarians transform commitments into action

1-2 OCTOBER 2010 | JOHANNESBURG

Organizer: Africa Public Health, Pan African Parliament, supported by PMNCH and partners
Event dates: 1-2 October 2010
Venue: Johannesburg, South Africa

2 OCTOBER 2010 | JOHANNESBURG - Some 60 parliamentarians together with partners have come up with a plan to transform the pledges made to maternal, newborn and child health ( MNCH) into action. The commitments came at a special meeting called by the Pan African Parliament and organized by Africa Public Health, with support from the PMNCH and several partners aimed at implementing Decisions from July’s African Union Summit on 'Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa'.

The meeting preceded the Pan African Parliament (PAP) October Assembly meeting, bringing together Chairs of Finance /Budget Committees of National Parliaments and PAP Commissions of Health, Gender and Finance to discuss potential activities which Parliaments and they themselves can take to lead to improved health outcomes for women and children.

With 27 countries represented through Senators or Deputies, the session yielded strong recommendations outlining actions for PAP and National Parliaments. Policy makers committed to:

  • Hold multilateral consultation sessions in country involving parliamentary committees and ministries of health, finance, gender and other relevant social determinants to discuss key issues that need to be addressed;
  • Define strategies for parliamentary action on MNCH in countries based on:
    • Support for the development of national health plans which include comprehensive packages of essential interventions and focus on health system strengthening – in particular human resources for health
    • Budget support for the implementation of these plans based on percentage and per capita targets
    • Advocacy to Executive bodies
    • Development of legislation in support of healthy women and children
    • Implementation of accountability mechanisms to ensure full impact;
  • Implement a process to report on these activities within PAP committees and African Union Assemblies.

The recommendations reiterate the AU commitment to reaching the target of 15% of GDP expenditure for the health sector, but also encourages incremental annual increases targeting the achievement of adequate per capita health spending. It emphasizes: risk pooling measures to protect populations, better use of indicators, performance-based financing and in particular the use of innovation to increase fiscal space available for health spending. Parliamentarians outlined a need for capacity building in terms of key MNCH indicators, budget assessments and legislation development with an eye towards improving health outcomes for women and children.

The recommendations are predicated on global and regional agreements such as the Campaign for the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa, the Maputo Action Plan, the Africa Health Strategy, The Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action and the United Nations Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

The meeting was organized by the Africa Public Health and was supported by The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, World Vision International, DFID, The Global Fund, UNFPA, GHWA, UNAIDS and GAVI.

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