NEW DELHI, India — The theme of the 2010 Partners’ Forum on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health held here last week was the three As — Advocacy (advocating for more resources and policy changes), Action (implementing the United Nations Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health) and Accountability (ensuring that pledges and commitments have been met).
The Partners’ Forum was the first gathering since the launch of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health at the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in September that not only proposes specific interventions needed for reaching maternal, newborn and child health goals but also roles for all key stakeholders — country governments, donors, multilaterals and civil society.
The forum was useful in reminding us what was promised by a number of stakeholders. A lot of discussion and debate went into the definition of “accountability” and how to measure it.
And while the Delhi Declaration, released on the last day of the forum, mentioned the need to turn pledges into action and working with key stakeholders, it is time we moved away from these global discussions. With a global strategy in place, the conversation must now shift to the country level.
We must discuss ways to empower individuals in their own countries to advocate for more resources from their own governments and demand the necessary policy changes. We must empower individuals to take the necessary action and design and implement programs that work. And we must empower individuals to hold themselves and their governments accountable for following through on commitments made in the Global Strategy.
This is why it was refreshing to have a conference in India that was attended by mostly Indians, Africans and Southeast Asians. The large presence of Indian nationals forced us to all think about how such a global strategy can be implemented in a country like India, which currently tops the charts in maternal and newborn mortality.
The Global Health Council is taking the first steps to move the strategy from the global level to the national level. On Tuesday, Nov. 16, GHC is bringing together all actors engaged in global health in India to discuss the next steps for following through on India’s commitments to the global strategy. Not all of the questions will be answered. However, the conversation must begin.
You can read about that here at Blog4GlobalHealth later this week.