Response to Ban’s new Global MDG Strategy
A comparison of the new Global Initiative on Maternal and Child health at the MDG conference with the "Muskoka agreement".
Initiatives worth $40 billion don’t often go unnoticed, so you may have seen that on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health , a plan designed to accelerate progress toward Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 by galvanizing global commitments around a comprehensive plan. The Secretary-General’s office announced that the commitments made so far will:
# Save 16 million lives by 2015
# Prevent 33 million unwanted pregnancies
# Protect 120 million children from pneumonia and 88 million children from stunting
# Advance the control of infectious diseases, and
# Ensure access for women and children to quality facilities and skilled health workers.
In addition to financial commitments, the Global Strategy promotes country-led health plans with sustainable investment, integrated delivery of health services, health systems strengthening, innovative approaches to financing and improved monitoring and evaluation of programs to ensure that maximum benefit will be derived from commitments made to women and children.
On paper, it sounds pretty incredible, and at ONE, we celebrate the renewed focus on maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) — an issue which we feel is long overdue. We’re also thrilled to see the diversity of partners who have come together and have committed to achieving real outcomes in health — not just financial inputs.
It wasn’t just the usual crop of donor countries who made commitments (though many pledged substantially). Benin agreed to provide antiretroviral treatment to 90 percent of their HIV-positive pregnant women. Ethiopia pledged to increase the proportion of its children immunized against measles to 90 percent. Niger provided free care for maternal and child health. And NGOs and philanthropies of all sizes, UN agencies, members of academia and the private sector rounded out a true 21st century global partnership.
But now that the confetti has settled in New York City, what will the Global Strategy really amount to? To be frank, it’s hard to tell. Though each entity’s commitments were outlined, it was not clear how the $40 billion figure was calculated and how much of it was actually new money. We know that some of the $40 billion has been generated in the period “since April,” meaning chunks could have come through commitments made at prior forums, including this summer’s G8 Summit in Canada. And speaking of which, we’re having flashbacks to our analysis of the Summit’s Muskoka Initiative for MNCH, where money was pledged and the rhetoric was great, but ultimately, there was no great accountability mechanism established by which the advocacy community could measure commitments, progress or gaps.
While that’s frustrating for us, it’s a matter of life and death for the mothers and children depending on these initiatives for support. At ONE, we will stay engaged and work to ensure that a monitoring body is established to ensure that these and other commitments made this week are kept.