Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health

Third stakeholder meeting: taking stock of the progress and developing the strategy for 2013

Improving governance and investment frameworks for women’s and children’s health

Representatives from national governments, the UN, civil society and the private sector gathered in Geneva to discuss how to accelerate accountability and harmonization of efforts in support of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and the recommendations of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health (CoIA).

The overall objectives of the meeting were:

  • to critically review progress in the implementation of the Global Strategy and the 10 recommendations of the Commission on Information and Accountability;
  • to provide strategic direction on implementing the iERG recommendations;
  • to explore synergies in the implementation of the different initiatives under the Global Strategy;

Welcomed by Bob Orr, Under Secretary General of the UN, the participants heard how the Global Strategy has started to make a difference in countries. He also emphasized how, in view of the various streams of work which push efforts in neglected areas, “…in 2013 we need to weave together diverse areas or work, which are the common strength of the Every Woman Every Child movement”.

CIDA President Margaret Biggs and WHO Assistant Director-General Flavia Bustreo led the discussion which provided an opportunity to review progress in relation to each of the 10 CoIA recommendations, and to discuss how to take forward the six recommendations provided in the first annual report of the independent Expert Review Group on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health (iERG).

The top recommendation of the iERG report – strengthening the global governance framework for women’s and children’s health – was discussed extensively in relation to the launch of several new initiatives in 2012 in support of the Global Strategy, including the launch of the Born Too Soon Report focused on prematurity the endorsement of the Global Vaccine Action Plan, the Child Survival Call to Action and the Family Planning Summit. In September, the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities presented its report with specific recommendations to increase access to 13 overlooked life-saving medicines and health supplies for the world’s most vulnerable people.

Participants applauded the energy that each of these initiatives has brought, but also shared the iERG’s concern that, “unregulated energy can lead to chaos”.

Participants agreed that senior principals of these initiatives need to discuss practical approaches to improving governance and harmonization, linked to the development of a joint investment framework and national and global reporting mechanisms.

During an open dialogue with the iERG, the challenges and opportunities of the current accountability mechanisms were discussed. The group suggested various ways to overcome the risks that the self-reporting poses. There iERG was asked to guide the convergence and alignment of accountability processes of the recent initiatives under Every Woman Every Child.

Participants also observed the need for greater emphasis on the integration of international human rights frameworks and legislative action with these national accountability processes, as well as stronger attention and support for community accountability efforts and adolescent health. The term “conversational accountability” was coined to ensure greater recognition of the value that community monitoring can bring.

Among the key outcomes and next steps:

  • All agreed with the iERG recommendation to improve global governance around the different initiatives that were recently launched under the Global Strategy. This should happen with the H4+ partnership. The GAVI Partners Forum in Tanzania in December will be a venue for further discussions. The next six months will be critical for developing an operational framework for this structure, linked to the World Bank financing facility for MDGs 4 and 5.
  • Meeting participants are clear that the iERG should play a key role in oversight of implementation of all initiatives under the Global Strategy as part of their mandate. Norway agreed to use the existing accountability framework for the Commodities Commission work and could be an example to other initiatives under the Global Strategy.
  • Greater need for harmonization and strengthening the IHP+ platform to “bridge” ‘the different silos and support one national plan. There was a renewed energy for reviving IHP+ as a mechanism for promoting well-coordinated support for implementing national priorities.
  • Investment framework for women’s and children’s health was strongly recommended so that the global community better understands the funding needs and gaps. It is felt that the better estimates of the investment required will also help shape the post-2015 discussions and ensure that the gains in women’s and children’s health are not lost.
  • The meeting also prioritized the iERG’s recommendation for greater integration of human rights into the Accountability framework and support countries to take legislative action and develop indicators for human rights. Parliamentarians and civil society were cited as key partners for upholding accountability at the national and regional level. Adolescent health and nutrition are also neglected areas that merit greater focus and attention.

The presentation linked on your right covers in more detail the summary of the outcomes.