2014 Partners' Forum
30 JUNE - 1 JULY | Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
Plenary 1: Healthy women and children at the centre of development
More than 800 leaders and health advocates gathered for the very first plenary session of the 2014 Partners’ Forum in Johannesburg. “Healthy women and children at the centre of development” was the topic of the session and gave panellist the opportunity to explore the major themes of the Forum.
The plenary which immediately followed the opening and welcome remarks was moderated by Nikiwe Bikitsha, broadcast journalist and columnist . Panellist were taken through a round of questions tied to themes linking to the forum which include measuring results, accountability, the power of people to drive change, multisectoral approaches and the post 2015 agenda.
What gets measured gets done
Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization spoke of the importance of measuring results to galvanize action. “If you check progress and measure results it is powerful. Good results reinvigorate country partners to do more”. Civil Registration and Vital Statics, reliable data as well as a good health system are imperative to this process she insisted. In her intervention, she introduced the Success Factors for Women`s and Child’s Health report which highlights the progress 10 “fast track” countries have made in reducing maternal and child mortality.
The power of the people
Ms Nunez Argote, Vice President for the World YWCA board and one of the more than 100 youth taking part in the Forum, laid out the youth demands calling for action and Investment in health and education of young people, advancing women’s rights and equality and ensuring that women and girls are at the centre of decision making and post 2015 agenda. We are citizens with rights she declared.
On the theme of the post 2015 agenda, Ms Amina Mohammed , UN Special Advisor, urged delegates not to silo issues as they negotiate the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. With a year to go in the negotiations, she stressed the importance of actionable targets and looking at the whole including areas of social justice and environmental protection.
Multisectoral and in-country approaches to health
Participants also heard from Dr Rajiv Shah, USAID who spoke about the Acting on the Call meeting in Washington, DC last week and 2.9 billion commitment made by the US Government to ending preventable newborn and child deaths. Christopher Elias, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia highlighted the importance of the multisectoral approach to improving the health of women and children. Minister Ghebreyesus illustrated the connection with investments in other sectors and the connection to the health sector and improving lives. Christopher Elias went on to elaborate on the significant role of in country commitment and political will to this effort emphasising that the right policy and strategies can make a difference.
As the first plenary of the day came to an end but firmly set the tone for the serious deliberations about to begin, the Soweto Gospel choir, as if to urge on participants, closed the plenary with the words of the gospel song “this little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine” resonating through the hall.