The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH) and the World Bank co-hosted a seminar last Wednesday on how to achieve MDGs 4 and 5 through strengthening health systems and increasing international and domestic financing for key maternal and child health interventions. MDG 4 calls for a two-thirds reduction in child mortality, and MDG 5 calls for a three quarters reduction in maternal mortality and increased access to reproductive health services. Countries are off-track to achieve these MDGs, and there has been almost no progress in reducing maternal mortality in Africa. Seminar participants discussed how to jump-start progress through more effective and efficient financing.
Financing for health systems has been dwarfed in recent years by financing for infectious diseases. While some progress has been made in the prevention and control of diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, too many women and children in poor countries still die every year of diseases that are no longer issues in the wealthier world. The global community is now increasing its attention on building health systems in developing countries to maximize and sustain investments in infectious diseases and to address the root causes of poor maternal and child health.
The High-Level Task Force on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems is at the center of global efforts to estimate the resource needs to strengthen health systems and define the mechanisms that can accomplish this goal. Launched in September 2008 and co-chaired by World Bank President Robert Zoellick and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Task Force has among its members high-level policymakers from key donor and recipient country governments. Operating under the premise that more aid is necessary – but better aid is absolutely critical – the Task Force has two working groups estimating the global price tags and country-level costs of achieving the MDGs. A key emphasis of the ongoing work is on the right mix of innovative financing mechanisms to deliver aid more effectively and efficiently. Accountability for funding and the results it achieves is high priority for donors, recipient countries, and civil society. The Task Force will deliver the results of the working groups at the G8 meeting in July, including recommendations on the appropriate mix of financing mechanisms to strengthen health systems and ultimately improve maternal and child health outcomes.
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