Cesar Victora | October 2015
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Presentation at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, October 21, 2015

Background: Begun in 2003 as a multi-sectoral movement that includes academics, governments, international agencies, professional associations, donors, and NGOs and other civil society organizations, with The Lancet as a key partner, Countdown to 2015 represents a commitment to using data to demand and foster increased accountability for women’s and children’s health.

Methods: As the MDG era drew to a close, Countdown conducted a rigorous assessment of its strengths, accomplishments, and limitations, in order to develop options for a post-2015 accountability mechanism for RMNCH with an analytical core. Consults interviewed Countdown members and partners, and assessed the relationships between Countdown and other accountability-related initiatives.   A small reference group was established to assess lessons learned and develop a consensus statement on the mission, scope, and governance of the next Countdown mechanism.

Results: A new Countdown mechanism will retain the identified strengths of Countdown to 2015, particularly the fruitful partnership by which academic institutions, civil society organizations, donors, governments, and international agencies have joined together to regularly report on agreed indicators and to conduct rich, innovative analytical work. It will maintain a focus on RMNCAH, to ensure that the unfinished business of women’s and children’s health remains prominent on global and national agendas. And it will include sufficient resources to effectively carry out three main streams of work: global monitoring, in-depth country analysis and capacity-building, and advocacy that uses data to drive action.

Conclusion: Ten years of Countdown have yielded important lessons on the value of a monitoring mechanism, built upon partnerships across a wide range of stakeholders that uses high-quality evidence to drive programmatic and policy action and promote accountability. To leverage the MDGs’ successes and fulfill the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals, strong, sustainable and well-resourced post-2015 monitoring and accountability structures must build on this valuable experience.