RMNCH Coalition formed by Order of Government of India
PMNCH interview: Dr Rajiv Tandon
with Dr Rajiv Tandon, PMNCH Board member (NGO Constituency Representative), Save the Children, India Senior Adviser, Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition
PMNCH: Can you give us a bit of history?
Dr Tandon: Last year a number of things happened—a convergence of sorts. They included the formation and launch of a number of key initiatives: the Every Woman Every Child effort by the United Nations Secretary General with the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health.
Changes to the PMNCH Board brought greater Indian participation, with Save the Children India representing the NGO Constituency, and the Government of India - represented H.E. Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare - became the Partnership Co-Chair.
Additionally, discussions began at the PMNCH Board to form multi-partner accountability and advocacy organizations at country and regional levels.
PMNCH: Could you explain how the Coalition came about?
Dr Tandon: I have some experience with a similar Nutrition Coalition in India which was formed earlier. We now see the Government of India responding to our recommendations and allocating budgets according to those recommendations. And so a proposal went to the Ministry with a draft Terms of Reference to set up a similar country-level coalition for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.
That proposal has been agreed by the government, and there is now a Government order which has set up the Coalition.
PMNCH: Who makes up the Coalition?
Dr Tandon: The Coalition is chaired by the Ministry of Health by Mrs Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director - NRHM, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, which is very exciting and we are very welcoming of this. It is a multi-stakeholder coalition, with experts and all major players from RMNCH, including central and local Government agencies, academics and training institutes, health care professional Associations, NGOs, the private sector, bilateral and UN multilaterals---all players have been included. Save the Children (STC) India will act as the Secretariat for the Coalition, with myself, Dr. Rajiv Tandon, as coordinator
PMNCH: What is the next step for the Coalition?
Dr Tandon: At present, we are waiting for the ministry to indicate when we can hold the first Coalition meeting. At that meeting, we will review the draft TOR, receiving partner comments on this draft, and work to tweak the scope of the Coalition’s mandate and discuss whether sub-committees are needed. The Secretariat is ready to go forward immediately, as STC has budget allocated to support the Secretariat. The convenor in the MoH has said the first meeting could take place very soon.
PMNCH: What is the Coalition’s hope for the coming year?
Dr Tandon: We will request the government to link directly with the 11 indicators of the Accountability Commission, which has asked countries to report on these indicators. Our goal is to have the Government of India agree to these accountability indicators both on a national basis, and because India is so vast, to add indicators which will also apply to the different states of India.
We will attend the two major meetings in June 2012 and July 2012 on Child Survival and Reproductive Health, and discuss and link to their recommendations as well. This is an opportunity to really create knowledge, to share that knowledge, and then build partner consensus and harmony in the main issues in regards to equity, accountability, trends and government ownership.
PMNCH: How do you see interaction between PMNCH and India’s RMNCH Coalition in India?
Dr Tandon: My feeling is that we will be very synchronized and aligned. The Chair and Coordinator of the India Coalition are both involved in PMNCH on the Board level: Government of India is Co-Chair of PMNCH, and STC India represents NGOs on PMNCH Board, with me as the representative on both the Board and Coalition. I see this as a very lucky and appropriate alignment -an opportunity for local to global alignment of accountability and advocacy.