The writer is Smita Baruah, the director of Government Relations of the Global Health Council.
NEW DELHI, India — The Global Health Council wasted no time in fostering discussions on how to nationalize the U.N. Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health to the Indian context. On Tuesday, about 50 individuals representing the “social sector” (the Indian term for NGOs), multilaterals and the private sector gathered in a room here to discuss how they can collectively help India reach its goals outlined in its September 2010 Maternal and Child Health Strategy.
The meeting, “A Call to Action: Supporting India’s Commitment to the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health,” brought together our members and partners and was organized by the Global Health Council, CEDPA, USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program and MCH Star. It followed last week’s Partners Forum for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health described in my previous blog post.
So what is the “Indian” version of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health? The Indian government is already ahead of the game. It has outlined key elements — focusing on the poorest districts where they will work on improving quality of services, training of health professionals (particularly around management), improving communications and capacity building. India has the financial resources and the infrastructure.
So what’s missing? A lack of trained human resources, commodity stockouts, good quality data (especially for informing decision-making), accountability and gaps in access to basic services by the poor, particularly in tribal areas, to name a few.
One speaker also noted that there is an “implementation bottleneck.”
What’s needed? There is a need to develop innovative approaches, partnerships and access strategies to extend reach of healthcare to those who otherwise do not have access.
What can be done? To help foster partnerships and innovative strategies, one panelist suggested establishing a multisectoral task force supported by the Indian government that could serve as a forum for exchanging ideas and fostering increased partnerships. This idea needs to be considered and implemented as soon as possible. The GHC can help play a role in fostering such a task force. Perhaps we’ll find ourselves in Delhi again launching this very idea.
We welcome your comments below.