Multi-country seminar on parliaments and accountability for women’s and children’s health


A seminar on accountability for health, hosted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Parliament of Bangladesh, and the World Health Organization, brought together parliamentarians from Bangladesh, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zimbabwe and India to discuss processes and mechanisms to promote accountability for women’s and children’s health and to identify the contribution of parliaments to these processes and mechanisms.

The seminar focused on how parliamentarians can be more accountable to women and children by strengthening health systems. Two pillars in the development of a health system are information on resources spent and results that are achieved. This information can be used to hold all involved accountable for the promises that are made.

According to WHO, millions of women and children die unnecessarily across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Three women die every five minutes due to complications in pregnancy or childbirth. In the same time period, 70 children die, nearly half of them in the first month of their life. Almost all of these deaths can be prevented.

In April 2012, parliaments committed themselves to improving the wellbeing of women and children in a landmark resolution made at the IPU’s 126th Assembly. The crucial role of parliaments to improve health has also been recognized and promoted by Countdown to 2015, a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration that tracks, stimulates, and supports country progress on maternal, newborn, and child survival, as well as the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health, and the independent Expert Review Group, which were set up to monitor the progress of the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health launched by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010.