Sixty-eighth session of the UN General Assembly


Keeping our promises to women and children


Nearly 150 Ministers, UN leaders, NGOs, private sector managers, and academic experts met in New York to vow greater efforts on accountability for women’s and children’s health. “Accountability for Results: Keeping our Promises to Women and Children” marked the second annual Sunday accountability breakfast organized by Countdown to 2015, the independent Expert Review Group, and PMNCH.

The event kicked off the annual UN General Assembly week by highlighting a range of important new evidence. Reports and papers including “Strengthening Equity and Dignity through Health”, the second report from the independent Expert Review Group on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health (iERG); the 2013 PMNCH report on the commitments to the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health; and two new papers from Countdown to 2015¬ -- on maternal health in Bangladesh (El-Arifeen et al, forthcoming) and one on projections of newborn and child survival to 2035 (Walker et al, 2013).

The presentations were accompanied by a preview of the new Investment Framework for Women’s and Children’s Health, presented by Dr Flavia Bustreo of the World Health Organization on behalf of a wide number of partners, as well as an overview of a major new two-year study, Accelerating Progress for Women’s and Children’s Health, looking at commonalities between those countries moving swiftly toward meeting their Millennium Development Goals (MDG), including political prioritization, using evidence to guide policies, investment in development fundamentals across both in and outside the health industry.

The meeting was chaired by Anuradha Gupta of the Government of India and Carole Presern, Executive Director of PMNCH, and included remarks by Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. Joy Phumpahi, incoming chair of the iERG, gave closing remarks, emphasizing the links between advocacy for women’s and children’s health in the current run-up to the MDG target date of 2015 and the post-2015 framework.

“This is a watershed moment in our attempt to influence the pace of development in our countries, “ said Ms. Phumpahi. “We believe that results are not just a result of increased efforts, but of accountability. This is our important message: We cannot wait until 2015 to have effective accountability mechanisms in place. We need to demonstrate now that it works.”

Speakers called for the development of transparent, real-time information and data systems, as well as much greater attention to adolescent health, newborn health, and quality of care. These concerns were also represented in a special video address on child marriage and civil registration given by PMNCH chair Graca Machel.

J Cook Photography
WHO Director General Margaret Chan accepts the annual report of the independent Expert Review Group from co-chairs Richard Horton and Joy Phumpahi to convey to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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