PMNCH Accountability Breakfast 2019

22 September 2019 | New York

Leaving no woman, child or adolescent behind on the road to UHC

“Women, children and adolescents are the centre of gravity for UHC,” said Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO of Amref Health Africa, “and communities are the axis on which UHC gravitates.” Speaking at the annual PMNCH accountability breakfast, Dr Gitahi was one of several speakers who emphasized the importance of supporting community voice and participation to improve planning and accountability for health.

Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO of Amref Health Africa

The event, co-sponsored by the Independent Accountability Panel and Every Woman Every Child, was attended by more than 200 representatives of country delegations, private sector organizations, NGOs, research agencies, UN agencies, and others attending this year’s UN General Assembly events. South Africa’s Minister of Health, H.E. Dr Zweli Mkhize and Indonesia’s Minister of Health, H.E. Dr Nila Moeloek participated on a panel moderated by Columbia University’s Dr Martha Schaff to discuss the importance of multisectoral action for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health in the context of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – a key theme of this year’s UNGA week.

The event began with opening comments by Dame Carol Kidu, a member of the Independent Accountability Panel and a former politician from Papua New Guinea, where she was the sole female member of parliament. Dame Kidu’s remarks were followed by those of another female pioneer, the Rt Honorable Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and now the Board Chair of PMNCH. “Listening to communities – especially those in marginalized and remote places – is really important, and listening to women and young people, especially so,” said Ms. Clark.

Tariah Adams, WRA Nigeria

The comments of the PMNCH chair were followed by a presentation from the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA), whose ‘What Women Want” campaign collected the voices of about 1.2 million women from around the world. WRA representatives Tariah Adams (Senior Communication and Advocacy Officer, WRA Nigeria), Angela Nguku (Founder and Executive Director, WRA Kenya), and Hester Nyasulu (Executive Director, WRA Malawi) anchored a dynamic presentation of findings from the campaign, presented in part by video testimonials from campaign participants. Top demands from the campaign included the need for respectful and dignified care, as well as access to water, sanitation and hygiene. “It’s sad we have to have a campaign to listen to women. It should be part of our health system,” commented Adams.

Anuradha Gupta, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and Margaret Agama-Anyetei, the African Union Commission

In addition to such powerful community evidence, the breakfast event featured a global landscape presentation of current status and trends in women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health, presented by Dr Stefan Peterson, Chief of Health of UNICEF. Despite declining levels of mortality, Dr Peterson stressed that the poorest and most vulnerable still die of preventable causes, primarily in fragile states and humanitarian settings. Such deaths include those linked to environmental causes, while coverage levels of proven interventions, including immunization, are now stagnating or declining in certain settings. Other issues, including stillbirths, require far greater attention and effort. Later in the breakfast programme, UNICEF launched a set of country profiles on early childhood development (ECD), as well as new Countdown to 2030 equity profiles.

Throughout the three-hour programme, panelists identified lessons learned and core principles to move from evidence to action.

"In Kenya, we appreciate that the realization of the highest attainable standard of health care can only be achieved through harnessing and embracing accountability and transparency. Mechanisms of accountability and transparency is very crucial in order to ensure that state obligations concerning the right to health are respected, take place at national and country level and the various contributors such as the state itself, NGOs and civil society, national human rights institutions, and international organization are accountable."

Doctor Wago Ejersa, Head of the National Malaria Control programme Kenya, on behalf of Hon. Cecily Kariuki, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Kenya

Reflecting on the HIV experience, for instance, UNAIDS executive director (ad interim) Gunilla Carlsson stressed that equity, inclusive governance and accountable partnerships that go beyond the realm of the health sector are necessary to promote greater advancements in women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health.

The role of the private sector, too, within such partnerships was illustrated by Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President, Global Health, Becton, Dickinson & Co. and President, BD Foundation, and then by Dr Mary-Ann Etiebet, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers, who announced a $USD50 million alliance for Financing for MOMS (Maternal Outcomes Matters) with OPIC, USAID and Merck for Mothers Initiative, and Credit Suisse to improve access to high quality healthcare and WASH for women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Throughout the discussions, political will was identified as a necessary driver of action and change, including in relation to improved alignment of global and regional actors to ensure effective use of existing health resources.

Highlights from the PMNCH Accountability Breakfast 2019

Interactive Displays of Accountability Resources and Tools
  • The latest accountability tools and resources for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health showcased at the Accountability Breakfast. For the full list of resources and tools, click here;
  • Launch of the What Women Want results from Malawi and Nigeria (click here);
  • Launch of the UNICEF ECD Profiles and the Countdown to 2030 Equity Profiles (click here);
  • State of RMNCAH: Progress and challenges, a presentation by Stefan Peterson, Chief of Health, UNICEF (click here).

PMNCH events at the 74th UN General Assembly