Grim news from the independent Expert Review Group on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health

Geneva, 26 September 2012 - Most countries will fail to meet goals for women’s and children’s health by 2015 amid declining donor funding, is a key finding of the first report of the UN Secretary-General's independent Expert Review Group (iERG)* on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health, which was released earlier today at the UN General Assembly. The Alliance contributed to the report through its Board member, Professor Miriam K Were, who serves as member of the iERG.

"Although reductions in maternal and child mortality have been impressive in some countries, millions of women and children still die every year from preventable causes. In some 27 countries child mortality has acutally risen" said Prof Were. “Inadequate donor investments, weakness in country health systems and lack of skilled health workers are part of the problem“ she added. Paragraph 60 of the report recognizes the lack of health workers as a barrier to progress. It outlines the need for correct investments and incentives to be put in place, so as to ensure the equitable distribution of health workers. It also refers to, task shifting as an innovative solution to the human resources crisis, which has been successfully used in Ghana, Lao PDR, Malawi, and Tanzania to scale up provision of services.

The key findings of the iERG's report are:

  • There are worrying signs that donor and country financial commitments to women's and children's health are declining;
  • The distribution of commitments to countries with the highest burdens of women's and children's mortality are disturbingly uneven, revealing deep and troubling inequities in health care;
  • Barriers relate to pervasive weaknesses in country health systems—inadequate high-level political leadership, insufficient financing, weak national governance, lack of skilled health workers, and unacceptable variations in coverage of life-saving interventions; and
  • The iERG also identifies additional areas that remain systematically marginalized in strategies to improve women's and children's health: under nutrition, lack of attention to the needs of adolescent girls, gender discrimination, inadequate investment in safe abortion services, and inattention to conflict-affected and displaced populations, among others.

The iERG makes recommendations to improve accountability as a means to accelerate progress for women's and children's health which include:

  • Strengthening the global governance framework for women's and children's health;
  • Devising a global investment framework for women's and children's health;
  • Setting clearer country-specific strategic priorities for implementing the Global Strategy and test innovative mechanisms for delivering these priorities;
  • Strengthening human rights tools and frameworks to achieve better health and accountability for women and children; and
  • Expanding the commitment and capacity to evaluate initiatives for women's and children's health.

Prof Were will continue to serve as a member of the group until 2015, reporting on results related to the Global Strategy on women and children’s health. The Alliance stays firmly committed to working with its wide and impressive network of members and partners towards the achievement of maternal and children’s health related MDGs .

*The independent Expert Review Group (iERG) will operate until 2015 - reporting regularly to the United Nations Secretary-General on the results and resources related to the Global Strategy and on progress in implementing the Commission’s recommendations.

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