Stakeholders consultation meeting-Delhi

Optimism and determination as Global Strategy consultation meeting opens


More than 200 experts from 25 countries, civil society organization (CSOs), the private sector, and international organizations gathered today in New Delhi for the opening of a two-day consultation to update the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health. This consultation, hosted by the Government of India, Every Woman Every Child (EWEC), and Partners for Population and Development, is the first of several important milestones leading up to the strategy’s launch in September 2015.

The Government of India, which is championing country leadership in the updated Global Strategy, gave a very warm welcome to participants who traveled from far and wide to take part in this important consultation. Indian Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda, affirmed that women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health is “one of the most pressing issues for the global community” and central to Prime Minister Modi’s government agenda. Minister Nadda noted India’s significant achievements over the past two decades, including an impressive 70% decline in maternal mortality since 1990. However, the Minister also noted that progress has been uneven between and within countries, and that inequalities must be addressed. India, he said, has now identified 150 focus districts in order to tackle these inequities in access to and quality of health services.

Amina Mohammad, UN Assistant Secretary-General, commended India for the leadership they have taken, and emphasized how critical it is to have high level of political commitment and leadership to advance this agenda. She said that we need to find new ways of working together – especially innovative avenues of south-south collaboration – if we are to truly achieve the vision of leaving no one behind. Ms Mohammad also made a strong call for the updated Global Strategy to look beyond mortality, and to ensure that women, children and adolescents “not only survive, but thrive.”

Dr Poonam Singh, the WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, noted that ending preventable maternal and child mortality, with a special focus on neonatal health, has become a flagship program, strongly supported by all South Asian Ministers of Health. Despite challenges, Dr Singh highlighted the example of India’s impressive efforts to become a polio-free country, saying that this example proves “that we can achieve difficult goals with concerted action.”

PMNCH youth representative Yemurai Nyoni challenged participants to be prepared to have uncomfortable conversations which, he said, are necessary “because the results that we desire are uncommon, and the world we aspire to has never been lived by anyone.” Noting that there are 1.2 billion adolescents living in the world, he asserted, “if we count for so many, we should count much more.” This message resonated with the other panelists, as did Nyoni’s appeal to participants to ensure that youth have a seat and a voice at the decision-making table, including in the development of the strategy.

It was clear from the opening session that participants recognize the historic opportunity before them to end preventable deaths of women, adolescents and children by 2030, and are eager to roll up their sleeves to ensure that this vision is translated into a concrete strategy and implementation plan.