This is a guest blog by Debra Jones, director of Family Care International’s Global Advocacy program and a member of the Global Health Council’s delegation to the World Health Assembly. It is being co-published on The FCI Blog.
GENEVA — Monday, the sun shined on the flower-filled hillside of the Chateau de Penthes, as government representatives from Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal shared challenges and successes in reducing maternal and child mortality in their countries. Taking a break from the busy World Health Assembly sessions, participants from civil society, government and the U.N. walked up the Chemin de l’Imperatrice to discuss opportunities for scaling up investments in maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Dr. Rifat Atun, director of the Global Fund’s Strategy, Performance and Evaluation Cluster, described the Global Fund’s new strategic framework and its efforts to maximize its impact beyond AIDS, TB and malaria on health systems and on women and children. The Global Fund expects to invest $3.5-$4 billion each year in its next three funding rounds (Rounds 11-13), with special attention to increasing investments in MNCH. Over the next three months, the Global Fund will host a variety of consultations with key stakeholders to assess what interventions are most effective and to build on current successful efforts.
Country-level experiences varied widely.
Ethiopia used Global Fund monies to support bottom-up planning that focused on saving lives while building its health system. Civil society groups played an important role in developing a strategy to strengthen the health infrastructure, expand health insurance and deploy more human resources. A nurse midwife from Malawi noted how that country’s launch of free health care is excessively taxing health personnel. Health facility waiting rooms are overflowing with hundreds of patients on a daily basis where there may only be one doctor or nurse midwife.
There is a small window of opportunity to scale up Global Fund investments for women’s and children’s health. The U.N. will hold the ultimate review of the Millennium Development Goals just 51 months from now, and there is still only limited empirical evidence to measure what works through integrated approaches. In the coming months, we must move aggressively to measure achievements, assess results and share information on effective interventions.
Read about FCI’s advocacy work to integrate funding and programs for MNCH and HIV/AIDS.