In a landmark decision, the World Bank, the United States, and governments of Canada and Norway announced at the 69th UN General Assembly their efforts to establish a new funding mechanism—the Global Financing Facility (GFF)—to support not only the acceleration needed to achieve MDG 4 and 5, but also a more long-term vision through 2030 to end preventable maternal and child deaths.
Dr. Ana Langer, Director of the Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard School of Public Health welcomes this fund and its strategy. “The focus on both maternal, child and reproductive health for women and girls and 2030 as a finish line is most welcome as it reflects both a life cycle approach and proves consistent with the new set of goals that the global maternal and newborn health community has proposed post-2015,” said Dr. Langer.
In addition, the establishment of this fund is a concrete action made by the global community to break down silos between initiatives and donors. This fund is collaborative by engaging a variety of stakeholders—from United Nations agencies to the private sector and domestic agencies—and integrates progress for both the MDGs and sustainable development goals.
“The Global Financing Facility provides much needed support to the collective efforts of the maternal, newborn, child and reproductive health global and national communities to significantly advance the unfinished agenda that still affects millions of girls, women and children around the world,” said Dr. Langer as she reacted to the announcement.
Dr. Langer also emphasized the importance of the strategic approach taken by GFF to accelerate progress in countries that are falling short of their MDGs. “The GFF will focus on the most vulnerable countries having the potential, therefore, to reduce the unacceptable disparities that currently exist between countries and population groups,” said Dr. Langer.
The GFF is not only for financing health initiatives, but will also aid developing countries to grow their economies from low- to middle-income and transition to long-term sustainable domestic financing.
Lastly, “the GFF emphasizes health information systems, an incredibly critical but weak area in most low- and middle-income countries. Having reliable and timely information will allow us to identify priorities, track progress, and improve accountability,” said Dr. Langer.
The jumpstart to this fund comes with a pledge of $400 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), $600 million from Norway, and $200 million from Canada. These resources will work jointly with public-private partnerships and low-interest loans and grants through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). The combination of these resources is up to $4 billion and it is anticipated that this momentum will also mobilize additional funds from other donors, both domestic and international funds, and the private sector.
Countries and key partners are now consulting as they make plans for the design and implementation of GFF. The fund is expected to be fully functional in 2015.