Stakeholders to review accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health

14-15 January, 2014 | Geneva, Switzerland

Fourth Stakeholder meeting: Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health

More than 80 participants gathered for a two-day meeting in Geneva to set out a roadmap to advance Accountability for Women’s and Children’s health. The event was an opportunity for stakeholders to review progress to date, taking into account recommendations by the independent Expert Review Group, which oversees the progress made on the implementation of the 10 recommendations put forward by the Commission on Information and Accountability in 2011.

Co-chaired by the World Health Organization and the Government of Canada, the event gathered high-level decision makers representing countries implementing national accountability frameworks and initiatives under the Global Strategy, iERG members, donors, and civil society and IHP partners.

Welcoming participants through a video address, Robert Orr, UN Secretary General’s Office highlighted the power of the Global Strategy and the Every Woman Every Child movement, which, in three years galvanised commitments from over 290 partners totalling $45 billion. He encouraged partners to look at the accountability model for women’s and children’s health as a ‘ pathfinder for many other sectors’, and join efforts to ensure continuation of this work, and to inform more broad accountability for the post 2015 era.

Dr Margaret Chan, Director General, World Health Organization stressed how addressing accountability for women’s and children’s health means addressing long-standing problems with health infrastructures and services. She also focused on the urgency of addressing the lack of reliable systems for civil registration and vital statistics in many countries, asking stakeholders to prioritise this issue as we move ahead.

She closed by thanking participants for their ‘courage in embarking on a journey into largely uncharted territory, and for participating in a grand experiment with major implications for the future of public health.’

Diane Jacovella, Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Issues and Development, Canada spoke of Canada’s pride in championing Maternal Newborn and Child Health and being able to support the Every Woman Every Child Initiative. She acknowledged the contribution of hundreds of stakeholders who have helped make a difference and have pushed the issue forward. She added that ‘with commitments come responsibility and we owe it to Every Woman Every Child to make sure our words translate into action.’

In her address she stated the importance of monitoring progress in a transparent manner and stressed the importance of a number of key actions including building on lesson learned; trying to better understand where and how the resources have been allocated; demonstrate results and impact from investments to attract further investment; refocus efforts to reach the hardest to reach and the most vulnerable; and finally have reliable up to date information to make informed decisions. She urged participants over the next two days to ‘develop a strategy that will achieve the greatest impact with an eye on the 2015 deadline and with a mind open to the post-2015 agenda.

Countries presented progress towards achieving the Commission on Information and Accountability recommendations with representatives from Cambodia Ministry of Health, Nepal, Tanzania and White Ribbon in Nigeria providing examples of success in different areas.

Participants were invited to join various working groups to look at how to advance the accountability agenda, by setting specific priorities and lead groups to advance each of the six recommendations made by the iERG in their 2013 report.

Conclusions and Outcomes

Diane Jacovella, Liz Mason and Marleen Temmerman led the closing session where a consolidated summary of the group work was presented and agreed. There was overall consensus from the meeting on the following points:
  • Focus should be kept on the original 10 Commission recommendations, with the work on the iERG recommendations to support the implementation of the 10 original CoIA recommendations.
  • Work is immediately needed across all areas highlighted by the six iERG recommendations, and there was consensus on which partner should take a lead role.
  • There is a sense of urgency to invest in better information systems and continuation of the work on civil registration and vital statistics.
  • Harmonization among global partners remains a critically important issue that needs to be addressed. IHP+ and the RMNCH mechanisms are important platforms for this.
  • There remains an immediate funding gap of USD 4.8 million for the implementation of the accountability work for 2014, including for several countries which require funding to implement their accountability frameworks.
  • The donors contributing to the accountability work (Canada, Norway, UK and Germany) as well as the UN Secretary-General’s office committed to fundraising for the accountability work.