Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health

Fifth stakeholder meeting: setting the foundations for post-2015

Financing for the ‘grand convergence’

The session on the new Global Financing Facility (GFF) for women’s and children’s health was equally rich. Dr Tore Godal underscored that aid for health must be systematically linked to national financing, and that country ownership is absolutely critical for achieving sustainable results. This point was reiterated throughout the session, notably by Dr Tim Evans of the World Bank and Ethiopian State Minister of Health, Dr Amir Aman Hagos.

Dr Evans said that in the design of the GFF we need to plan for both the short term and the long term, and the latter involves planning for how countries transition to sustainable domestic financing, gradually covering a larger portion of their health budgets. Dr Evans said that the evolving fiscal reality of countries must be considered very closely, and that, given its close working relationships with Ministers of Finance, the World Bank can add value by helping them to understand “the health sector as an investment, not a drain.”

Minister Hagos described how the Ethiopian government currently finances 16% of the national health budget, but is actively exploring ways to increase this percentage, including through taxation and public-private partnerships, as part of their 20 year health care transformation plan. He also emphasized the importance of global public goods, stressing that a greater share of the research and innovation agenda needs to focus on how to successfully scale up existing innovations.

Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of Gavi (The Vaccine Alliance) also noted the “huge investment deficit” when it comes to “much neglected public goods.” She spoke of some of Gavi’s successes in pooling demand, leveraging volumes, and working with industry as a key stakeholder to drive down prices. She expressed Gavi’s strong support for the GFF saying that it presented an opportunity to address adolescent health, fragmentation of funding, and to lower transaction costs for countries as they streamline their investments for women’s and children’s health, and health systems more broadly. “Verticality,” she said, “is an Achilles heel and we have all been wanting to address this but have failed miserably to do so.”

At the close of the two-day meeting, co-conveners Diane Jacovella, Dr Tore Godal and Dr Flavia Bustreo presented participants with a timeline and concise summary of the discussions (see the links on the right). The co-conveners also committed to establishing work streams by the end of November to advance the renewal of the Global Strategy, and to reconvene the larger stakeholder group for another consultation at the end of February.

It is envisioned that the renewed Global Strategy will present a common vision for 2030 and will be launched jointly with the first five-year implementation plan at the UN General Assembly in September 2015, aligning with the adoption of the SDGs. There is a significant amount of work to be done between now and then but all partners agreed with Joy Phumaphi who said that “we are the privileged ones because we have an opportunity to end preventable deaths among women, children, newborns and adolescents for the first time in the history of mankind.”