Making Acccountability Count

Written by: Ann Starrs, President, Family Care International

 

When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon formally launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health last September during the 2010 UN General Assembly meeting, a range of stakeholders made commitments totaling $40 billion for improved maternal and child health programs and services. The Global Strategy, a plan to save the lives of 16 million women and children in the world’s poorest countries, cuts across all the Millennium Development Goals, especially those related to health (MDGs 4, 5 and 6). It is designed to serve as a global roadmap to identify and mobilize resources, policies, and critical interventions, with engagement by governments, donors, academic institutions, health professional associations, NGOs, corporations, and many others.

 

These ambitious goals and generous pledges, promising though they may be, are not enough to bring real change. That will come only when commitments are translated into real money and concrete action. As my organization, Family Care International, wrote in our own commitment to the Global Strategy, “commitments don’t save lives until they are actually delivered.”

 

During a strategy meeting in Washington, DC last Friday, I shared an overview (here) on the Global Strategy, noting that accountability will be the key to ensuring that the Global Strategy drives clear, quantifiable progress toward achievement of MDG targets by 2015. The Global Strategy document stated this clearly:

Accountability is essential. It ensures that all partners deliver on their commitments, demonstrates how actions and investment translate into tangible results and better long-term outcomes, and tells us what works, what needs to be improved and what requires more attention.

 

Last month, the UN announced the establishment of a high-level Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, co-chaired by the President of Tanzania and the Prime Minister of Canada. This Commission, with members from developed and developing countries, academia, civil society and the private sector, is charged with developing a framework for tracking resources and results at the global and country levels. Its two working groups — on ‘accountability for resources’ and ‘accountability for results’ – are already hard at work; the Commission’s draft report is due to the UN this May.

 

As a member of the results working group, I will return to the MHTF blog soon to solicit your input on appropriate indicators, measurement needs, and accountability mechanisms (each working group has posted a “discussion forum” page here) , and to report back on our progress.