African countries meet to develop country accountability roadmaps


Implementing the Commission on Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health

Delegations from ten sub-Saharan African countries*, supported by a range of regional and global partners, met in Dar es Salaam on 13-15 February to develop country roadmaps to strengthen national accountability and action for improving women’s and children’s health. The Tanzania workshop, one in a series of regional workshops that will ultimately cover 75 priority countries, is part of the action plan for implementing the recommendations of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health. The Commission, which issued its final report in May 2011, outlined recommendations in three areas: better tracking of results, better tracking of resources, and better oversight of results and resources, nationally and globally.

The country delegations participating in the “Multi-country workshop to strengthen results and accountability for women’s and children’s health and the health sector as a whole”, organized by WHO and partners, are assessing their current situations and developing draft roadmaps for enhancing accountability in seven key areas for action: monitoring of results, tracking resources, civil registration and vital statistics, maternal death reviews, strengthening the use of information and communication technology (ICT), strengthening national mechanisms for review and accountability, and advocacy and action. A Country Accountability Framework tool, with suggested criteria for progress in each of these seven areas, is being used by the delegations to identify strengths and weaknesses and define appropriate actions for their country.

In the section on national mechanisms for review and accountability, for example, countries are assessing their monitoring and evaluation plans for the national health strategy; whether a nationally representative household health surveys is scheduled; the coverage and quality of the national health information system; and whether data from surveys and facility reporting is regularly analyzed, broken down by key equity indicators, and covers the 11 core indicators for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health recommended by the Commission. In the section on advocacy and action, participants in the workshop reviewed whether there is a standing parliamentary committee with oversight for RMNCH; whether there is a functioning, effective civil society coalition conducting advocacy for MDGs 4 and 5; whether the media cover RMNCH issues on a regular basis, and whether a national Countdown event is scheduled to take place between 2012 and 2014.

The Country Accountability Framework, while still in draft, has been met enthusiastically as an assessment and planning tool by participants. “This is a well thought-out survey,” said one member of the Zimbabwe delegation. “It is very useful for improving our work.”

*The ten countries are: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.