East African Community launches Open Health Initiative

PMNCH supports EAC partner states in efforts to jumpstart progress on women’s and children’s health

27-29 MARCH 2013 | KIGALI, RWANDA — The East African Community is seeking to deliver improved reproductive, maternal and child health with a new $5-million program to boost progress in the five EAC partner states: the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the Republic of Uganda.

The launch of the East African Community Open Health Initiative to Improve Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health took place during the first annual EAC Health Ministers and Parliamentarians Forum on Health and was presided over by Uganda’s Minister for Health and Chairperson of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health, Dr Christine Ondoa, on the sidelines of the fourth EAC Health and Scientific Conference. The annual conference, which provides a forum for the sharing of best practices and solutions to common problems, brought together nearly 500 members of the East African health community — representing governments, regional institutions, academia, and development partners —to identify common strategies for improving health outcomes in the subregion, highlighting women’s and children’s health as a key area for investment.

Of all of the countries in the region, only Rwanda is on track to reach Millennium Development Goal 4, which calls for reducing the 1990 mortality rate of children under five by two thirds. Member states will need to significantly accelerate progress toward this target and many of the other global development goals if they wish to achieve success by the 2015 MDG deadline and beyond, and deliver on their commitments to the Every Woman Every Child movement. The regional conference produced recommendations for next steps to address reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH), among other key issues, such as quality of care, non-communicable diseases and trauma, and health systems strengthening.

Reporting on progress towards MDG 4 and MDG 5 — to reduce, by two-thirds, maternal mortality between 1990 and 2015 — and towards their commitments to EWEC, EAC partner states committed to implementing the new Open Health Initiative (OHI).

The OHI is a sub-regional collaborative effort that seeks to promote innovative interventions, enhance data and information for better results and provide stronger oversight of progress and resources in line with recommendations of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and the Commission on Information and Accountability. The OHI is expected to boost RMNCH progress by harnessing the collective knowledge and market size of the different participating countries, with the help of an acceleration fund to catalyze efforts to improve women’s and children’s health.

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health has extended its support to the OHI and identified possible synergies in advocacy and knowledge management efforts.

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