The Canadian Press reported over the weekend that Canada is planning to pledge $1 billion towards an initiative on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) at this month’s G8 summit.
Heather Scoffield of CP writes: “The federal government is telling other G8 countries that Canada is willing to put about $1-billion toward maternal and child health – as long as other countries ante up too. The Canadian cash will likely target poor countries with the worst records of maternal and child mortality and malnutrition.”
Although the initiative has been in discussion since Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in January that he would champion maternal and child health at the summit, with less than a month until the G8 summit few details have been outlined. To ensure that the initiative delivers results for women and children around the world, Canada and the rest of the G8 should take this opportunity to outline an action plan for maternal, newborn and child health with clear objectives and how the G8 will ensure that promises made at the summit are kept in the months and years ahead.
Last month, ONE released its own set of recommendations for the G8, including a call for a robust, results-based initiative to improve maternal, newborn and child health in the world poorest countries.
For maximum impact, new resources for maternal and child health should be channeled through effective bilateral and multilateral mechanisms (especially the Global Fund and the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative) and delivered in an integrated, coordinated manner that supports national health plans and works towards ambitious targets such as the recruitment of 3.5 million health care workers, universal access to basic immunization (including new vaccines for rotavirus and pneumococcal disease), and the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.
In addition, any new initiatives by the G8 and G20 must incorporate accountability safeguards to ensure that new commitments are kept. As a champion of accountability within the G8, Canada has the opportunity to demonstrate how an MNCH initiative will pilot a new era of accountability by the G8 and the G20. The TRACK principles, a guide developed by ONE and its partners call for commitments to development to be Transparent, Results-oriented, clear about the degree of Additionality and Conditionality, and monitored by an independent mechanism to ensure the promises are being Kept.
If the $1 billion figure is accurate, in the coming days Canada should clarify how it meets the TRACK principles – including where the money will be spent, the timeframe it will be delivered, interim targets and the outputs it intends to achieve – and encourage other donors to do the same to ensure that any new initiative includes both ambition and accountability.