PMNCH partners chart a way forward for partner-centric driven work in 2018

Last week, more than 40 participants representing the Partnership’s 10 constituencies gathered in Geneva to consider a new approach to strengthening and deepening the work PMNCH partners do together, linking the four strategic objectives (SO) as well as the six emerging Every Woman Every Child thematic areas. This was a unique opportunity to hear from each of the SO groups on progress in implementing the 2017 PMNCH work plan; assess and agree on an effective partner-centric approach to working; and identify priorities for 2018.

Helga Fogstad, PMNCH Executive Director
Helga Fogstad, PMNCH Executive Director.

Helga Fogstad, Executive Director of PMNCH welcomed partners and set the thread for the conversation with an overview of the Partnership’s value add through it SO structure and how that is being delivered by the four functions of accountability, advocacy, analysis and alignment. She gave a brief update on the work started at the end of 2016 to develop a joint EWEC Partners’ Framework guided by PMNCH as well as aligning PMNCH SO workplan with the emerging six Every Woman Every Child focus areas. In emphasising the importance of this alignment she said, “harmonization and consensus building are key traits of the Every Woman Every Child Movement and this has been major ingredient in the success of the movement”. She then presented the 2017 work plan implementation to date and key achievements in 2017.

Each SO group representative was invited to comment on the 2017 workplan implementation and partner-centric approach. Vandana Gurnani, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India, on behalf of SO1 country engagement spoke of the revival of the RMNCAH coalition in India in partnership with PMNCH. She highlighted the importance of this work in fostering collaboration and advocating for improved programs to achieve RMNCAH outcomes in India. She also noted that globally as well as locally there is a shrinking space in terms of focus for RMNCAH and expressed that PMNCH could maintain this focus through its knowledge sharing and convening power.

Jennifer Requejo, Countdown to 2030 for SO2 accountability, described the consultative process that went into developing the Global Strategy Progress Report launched at the High-level Political Forum in July. More than 44 partners were involved in what was seen as a successful launch. Furthermore, PMNCH held a debriefing session once the report launched and this proved important in understanding what worked and want needed to be improved upon.

Vandana Gurnani, MoHFW, India
Vandana Gurnani, MoHFW, India.

Thiago Luchesi, Save the Children, SO3 action for results, explained some of the broad activities the group engages in whether working together on the established thematic priorities of QED, Adolescent Health and Humanitarian settings; or supporting general advocacy moments around the UN General Assembly and World Health Assembly. On reflecting on the partner-centric piece he used the QED example as a an area where there has been a need to bring different networks working on a similar themes— such as Every Newborn Action Plan, EPMM, the Quality Of Care Network— under the same umbrella.

He said, “it is right to say partners need to drive the work but PMNHC has an important convening role – the convening power is essential for alignment, the Partnership is the ‘home’ where things come together and become more coherent and clear.”

Sarah Hedges-Chou, Youth Coalition for SRR and Buki Williams, Education as a Vaccine
Sarah Hedges-Chou, Youth Coalition for SRR and Buki Williams, Education as a Vaccine .

Sarah Hedges-Chou, Youth Coalition for SRR and SO4 on partner engagement gave an update on the process of developing the PMNCH Adolescent and Youth Constituency Mentorship Program which was led by 30 partners with broad support from the board and a total of 45 mentors and mentees at time of launch. The mentorship program she explained served to build the capacity of the constituency and help them contribute to RMNCAH goals and was “a great example of collaboration and alignment across constituencies.”

Other presentations on the first day included one on the survey findings on improving PMNCH’s partner-centric approach. Results from the survey revealed among other things that there was an appreciation for the partner-centric approach but partners sometimes struggled to see how they fitted into the PMNCH workplan. There was also an update on improving the alignment of PMNCH and Every Woman Every Child and a discussion of the emerging priorities for PMNCH 2018 work planning.

“it is right to say partners need to drive the work but PMNHC has an important convening role”

Thiago Luchesi,
Save the Children, SO3 action for results

The meeting heard contributions from key partners, including IS Global, Norad, Partners in Population and Development, UNFPA, White Ribbon Alliance, WHO, UNAIDS and others who all expressed a range of opinions on the role of the Partnership, its value add and how the partner-centric model and ways of working could be better expressed and structured to contribute meaningfully to the work of the partners.

Views expressed included: the importance of accountability remaining a key function of the Partnership; the importance of weaving the emerging six EWEC priorities into the framework; the need to strengthen the platform and its engagement at country level so as to better engage with national planning processes and enable governments to connect the dots with what is happening at the global level.

There was talk of supporting countries with their commitment, having strategies that were country specific and tailored to each context and articulating the value add to Governments to bring them to the table. There was consensus that the Every Woman Every Child movement under the auspice of the UN Secretary General has been a major success at mobilizing heads of state and the implementation of Global Strategy by partners. The challenge now is to continue that momentum by using the platform and EWEC movement to get people around the purpose of the Global Strategy through a theory of change whereby everyone sees how they can contribute.

Throughout the two days, a lively debate ensued with discussions focused on potential ways of organizing to ensure the different portfolios of PMNCH remain as partner-centric as possible and drive results for impact.

Luther-King Fasehun, Wellbeing Foundation Africa
Luther-King Fasehun, Wellbeing Foundation Africa.

On day two, priorities for the 2018 workplan were discussed with participants breaking into three “deep dive” discussions to allow cross-topic fertilization around Accountability—seen as a extremely important piece of the Partnerships work; Quality, Equity and Dignity—one of the six EWEC focus areas and an unfinished agenda; and SRHR, Empowerment of women and girls and Adolescent health—three focus areas with strong linkages and opportunities for partners to contribute.

Key decisions and recommendations that emerged at the end of the two- day retreat included:

  • the need to convene a small group of SO steering group representatives to develop a Board paper on partner-centric approaches for the effective delivery of 2018 PMNCH work plan;
  • a request for the SO working group to further discuss where accountability should fit in the Partnerships work i.e. either as cross cutting or as its own focus area; and
  • a strong recommendation for the PMNCH secretariat to look into ways of improving communication and information sharing with regard to partners’ work and opportunities for engagement.