Letter from the Partnership Board Chair Joy Phumaphi to all members and partners
5 MAY 2009
Dear Partners, Colleagues and Friends
I am writing to share an important milestone on the road towards realizing the vision of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health: a world where all women and children receive the care they need to live healthy, productive lives.
In February 2009, The Partnership's Board approved a new Three-Year Strategic Framework for Action and Commitment by Partners, including Priority Actions for the period 2009-2011, along with a new Secretariat Structure. We now have an up-to-date blueprint to guide our mission: supporting the global health community to work successfully towards achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. The need to now turn plans into action could not be more urgent as the world grapples with a global financial crisis which is already threatening the health and survival of the most vulnerable: women and children in poor communities.
As The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) manages its transition towards a "partner centric model", I would like to express the deep appreciation of the Board to Dr Francisco Songane, The Partnership's first Director, for his dedicated and inspiring leadership and many achievements over the past three years, and to wish him well in his new responsibilities. I would also like to thank the staff of The Partnership Secretariat for their hard work and commitment during this sometimes challenging period. Finally, I am indebted to my fellow Board members for their genuine commitment to partnership, and their dedication in crafting a common action plan to drive the maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) agenda forward.
As we look back over the Partnership's first three years (2005-2008) we are heartened by indicators of progress towards MDGs 4 and 5, the result of our collective efforts:
- the Continuum of Care, a cornerstone of the Partnership's work, is increasingly recognized as the critical paradigm through which gains for women, newborn and child health will be achieved;
- the Countdown to 2015 Initiative data shows impressive declines in child deaths in some high-mortality countries, as more children are being vaccinated, receive vitamin A supplementation and sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets;
- political leaders have committed themselves at the highest level to prioritize maternal and child health, spearheaded by the Norwegian-led Global Network of Leaders, and including the first ever G8 commitment in 2008 to address maternal and child health as part of a comprehensive approach to basic health care delivery;
- the maternal health community has greatly strengthened its advocacy voice following the 2007 Women Deliver conference, and its call to prioritize maternal mortality reduction is being championed by several organizations and eminent personalities such as Sarah Brown and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon;
- momentum to achieve MDG 5 is now strengthened by the inclusion of a new indicator which calls on countries to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015. This is also supporting stronger linkages between the maternal and reproductive health communities;
- health care professionals are now firmly at the table as an important constituency with a significant role in shaping human resource strategies which are critical to achieve the Millennium Goals on reducing maternal and child deaths.
So progress has been real, but our greatest challenges lie ahead: our time horizon to reach the MDGs is now less than seven years, and our mission to support strengthened health systems for women and children in poor nations must be accomplished at a time of economic retrenchment in the rich world. The Partnership is ready to take on these challenges by focusing on three strategic focus areas approved by the February 2009 Partnership Board meeting:
- promote evidence-based high-impact interventions and the means to deliver them through harmonization;
- raise US$30 billion to improve maternal and child health through advocacy;
- track partners’ commitments and measurement of progress for accountability.
Over the next three years, The Partnership workplan will cover six priority actions, each led by different partners supported by the Secretariat. These encompass building an evidence base and a knowledge management system, achieving consensus on a core package of MNCH interventions, harmonizing systems aimed at MNCH commodity security, strengthening human resources for MNCH, advocacy, and tracking progress and commitment.
At the core of our mission is the urgent need for scaled up advocacy to raise political awareness and additional resources. The lack of funding to strengthen basic health services for women and children suggests that the scale of infant, child and maternal mortality has not yet registered sufficiently on political agendas. As a community, we need to make the case for investment in MNCH with enhanced evidence and renewed vigour. In the coming period, The Partnership and partners will seek to capitalize on existing momentum in forums such as the G8 and the High-Level Task Force to ensure that declarations of political will result in augmented resourcing for maternal, newborn and child health.
In taking forward this new agenda, The Partnership will be supported by a streamlined Secretariat that reflects the move to a partner-driven model. We will no doubt face challenges at this time of transition and global risk. I am confident nonetheless that - with the future direction of The Partnership now clear and our commitments renewed - we are poised to make real gains for women, newborn and child health, strengthened by our common bonds of partnership.
Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health