Political speeches can sometimes be a dime a dozen or a collection of clichés, but every once in a while a speech is given that is so spot on it makes us wish we had written or delivered it ourselves.
Secretary Hillary Clinton’s speech last week in Oslo, Norway was one of those kinds of speeches. It was focused on global health, but it touched on many other critical themes of development work that we care about, including the importance of defining and measuring country ownership of programs; the necessity for African governments to commit their own resources toward development in a transparent way; and the need for donors to get their acts together and coordinate more effectively—all with the aim of saving more lives and improving more livelihoods.
Some of our favorite parts:
On country ownership:
“To us, country ownership in health is the end state where a nation’s efforts are led, implemented, and eventually paid for by its government, communities, civil society and private sector. To get there, a country’s political leaders must set priorities and develop national plans to accomplish them in concert with their citizens…. It is principally about building capacity to set priorities, manage resources, develop plans, and carry them out. We are well aware that moving to full country ownership will take considerable time, patience, investment, and persistence. But I think there are grounds for optimism.”
On the importance of African leadership:
“I challenge our partner countries to invest more in the health of their own people. If you went to Abuja and agreed to put 15 percent of your national budget into health, we need you to deliver on that commitment. That should be a priority – not just for health ministers, but for all political leaders, starting with presidents and prime ministers to finance and defense ministers. Meeting this commitment will pay off many times over, making it possible to expand services to underserved areas and people, develop your workforce, and even expand economic growth.”
On renewed commitment needed to reduce maternal mortality:
“There is an old proverb that says: ‘When a man repeats a promise again and again, he means to fail you.’ At the turn of this century, we made a collective promise to cut the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and achieve universal access to reproductive health services. And yes, we have repeated that promise again and again. And although we do not mean to fail, we risk failing all the same, if we don’t change course.”
On the responsible use of natural resources for development:
“There’s a special opportunity here for those nations that have recently discovered new sources of wealth in oil, gas, and other extractive industries. I urge you to follow the examples of two countries that are not often mentioned together in the same sentence: Norway and Botswana. Both discovered large stores of natural resources. Both dedicated a portion of the income to health and education. And in both cases, their investments coming from their own ground, their own natural resources, are saving lives and lifting up communities.”
You can watch the speech for yourself here and let us know in the comments which lines you liked best in the comments below.