Follow the money: exploring the realities of health financing in Kenya

Robinson Karuga is research coordinator at FCI-Kenya.

In Kenya, when someone in a poor, rural community needs health care, she goes to a health center — a facility in a nearby market town, offering a broad range of primary health services — or to a dispensary — a lower-level facility, typically staffed by a single nurse and providing only limited services.  For most Kenyans, health centers and dispensaries are their only contact with the health system, and the only available source of primary care. For Kenya to make meaningful progress in reducing its high rates of maternal and child mortality, the services offered in these primary-level facilities must be strengthened, and more Kenyans must be persuaded to use them: more than half of Kenyan women still give birth without help from a skilled attendant, a statistic that has actually become worse over the past 20 years.

Unfortunately, primary-level facilities often have not had the money they need to support consistent, high-quality services — in Kenya’s centralized national health system, allocated funds rarely filtered down to facilities through inefficient district disbursement channels characterized by leakages and mismanagement. In recent years, this funding shortfall was made worse by the government’s reduction and ultimate abolition of official user fees for many essential health services: ironically, a policy designed to increase poor people’s access to services often resulted in poorer service quality, as the facilities’ lost revenue was not replaced.

Beginning in 2010, the Ministry of Health addressed this problem with a program of ‘Direct Facility Funding’ (DFF), by which funds are provided directly from the national government to cover facilities’ core expenses, so that they can provide high-quality services that are responsive to communities’ needs. This is a potentially powerful reform, but facilities face significant challenges in implementing it, including managers with insufficient budgeting and money management skills and a lack of transparency in how money is allocated and spent.  There is also a lack of community awareness and monitoring of the DFF process, which minimizes community input on priorities for quality‐of‐care improvements.

This year, with support a from the Transparency and Accountability Program of the Results for Development Institute, FCI-Kenya will evaluate communities’ knowledge and understanding of the direct facility funding system and their level of satisfaction with health facilities’ quality of service and accountability. FCI will work in two counties (one rural and one urban), using “citizen report cards” to collect quantitative and qualitative data from health facility clients and from members of Health Facility Management Committees, community-based groups that are charged with managing funds at the facility level.

FCI will then work with government partners to develop an advocacy and community mobilization strategy to provide Health Facility Management Committee members with the knowledge and skills to manage funds effectively, and to ensure that community members have input into how funds are spent. Based on lessons learned from the project, the Ministry of Health — which enthusiastically supports this first-ever evaluation of the DFF reforms —plans to introduce the citizen report card throughout the country. It will serve as a continuous social accountability tool, creating a feedback loop between the national health financing structure and the community, and giving users of the health system a real voice in the services it provides. By empowering communities and building financial management capacity in the facilities themselves, this project offers a new and meaningful opportunity both to improve the quality of care and to increase demand for high-quality services.

Passion and pride: Young people take to the radio

María Faget is Family Care International’s Regional Advisor in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Last month, 21 young people from five Andean countries spent four days together learning radio production skills, recording professional-quality radio shows, and developing strategies for fighting teen pregnancy. The engine driving their work was the passion of these young people for their communities, and their outrage at the difficult realities they see around them every day. Motivated by their commitment to sexual and reproductive rights,  and fascinated by radio’s potential  to communicate positive messages to their peers,  these young people parted at the end of the workshop with pride,  satisfaction, and many new friendships.

Radio workshop, Bogota, ColombiaAll of this occurred at an innovative workshop, organized by FCI, that was held in Tenjo, near Bogotá, Colombia, as part of youth-participation component of the Andean Plan for the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (PLANEA). The workshop was conducted with financial support from UNFPA and the International Foundation,

Participants learned to use familiar stories, interviews, commentaries, and musical effects to illustrate various facets of teen pregnancy. Working with two professional audio editors and facilitators from Caracola Consultants, they ultimately succeeded in writing, producing, and recording seven complete radio programs.

One young participant summed up the experience like this:

I am so motivated, excited, pleased, and happy with all that we achieved in this workshop, the quality of speakers we met, and the friends from different countries whom we lived with. There is no way to say thank you … Now it is up to us to show, in the work we do back in our countries, how much this has empowered us.

To view a slideshow of the workshop, click here, and to hear their radio shows, click here.


Taller de producción radial: Pasión y orgullo

María Faget es Acesora Regional de Family Care International en  América Latina y el Caribe.

Estos dos conceptos pueden resumir lo que ocurrió durante los 3 1/2 días del taller de producción radial liderado por Caracola Consultores en las afueras de Bogotá.  En el marco de las actividades en participación juvenil del PLANEA, FCI, con apoyo financiero del UNFPA y de The International Foundation  organizó este encuentro-taller para fortalecer la articulación de las redes juveniles y su capacidad de comunicación e incidencia política. 

En esta oportunidad, veintiún jóvenes de 5 países del área andina trabajaron de sol a sol orientados por las facilitadoras, y con apoyo adicional de dos editores de audio lograron su meta: completar 7 programas radiales pregrabados

El reto estuvo claro desde el inicio: a través de una historia conocida, mediante entrevistas, comentarios, musicalización  y otros recursos de la crónica o el reportaje, cada uno de los 7 grupos debía mostrar una faceta del embarazo en la adolescencia y dejar un mensaje. La realización paso a paso de los programas fue un proceso muy rico de creatividad,  análisis y crítica participativa que además fortaleció el aprendizaje individual.

El esfuerzo durante el taller tuvo como motor la pasión de estos jóvenes por su trabajo en las comunidades. Movilizados por los temas de derechos sexuales y reproductivos, indignados por las realidades que ven en su entorno, conmovidos por los casos particulares, fascinados por las posibilidades de la comunicación y en particular de la radio, pusieron todo su espíritu y todo su empeño en la tarea creativa.  Los resultados fueron inmediatos, y el orgullo y la satisfacción de los y las jóvenes, manifestados claramente en sus evaluaciones sobre el taller  están plenamente justificados.

Los productos, las fotografías y los testimonios son – más que ningún informe – prueba de lo ocurrido y de lo logrado durante el encuentro.  Véanlos a continuación.

FCI at the United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth

Amy Boldosser is Senior Program Officer for Global Advocacy at Family Care International.

Yesterday at the United Nations, youth from around the world came together with Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, government representatives and heads of UN agencies to open the two-day (July 25-26, 2011) United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth.  This meeting marks the culmination of the International Year of Youth which included  regional youth consultations, campaigns and a year of hard work by youth advocates globally. The High Level Meeting (HLM) has the theme “Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding” and we’re hoping that these two days lead not only to improved dialogue and understanding but also to new commitments and concrete action from governments and UN agencies to protect and improve youth health and rights.

Speaking on the first thematic panel of the day, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, noted that the world population will reach 7 billion people this year and that 1.8 billion of those people are youth. Echoing the calls of youth advocates to see the largest ever youth population as part of the solution to global issues rather than as a challenge, Dr. Osotimehin referred to the “demographic bonus” of having a strong generation of young people who are helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are at the forefront of advocating for protecting our environment in the Rio+20 process, and who are working hard to ensure and promote youth sexual and reproductive health and rights, including access to comprehensive sexuality education.

Youth advocates participating in the HLM are highlighting the importance of bringing the perspectives, needs, and innovative ideas of young people to the international debate on development and achieving the Millennium Development goals. Leila Mucarsel, a sexual and reproductive health advocate from Argentina who also spoke on the first panel, defined real youth participation as ensuring  youth involvement in all levels of policymaking and programming-including planning, budgeting, development, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. Juan Camilo Saldarriaga from Costa Rica, an International Planned Parenthood Western Hemisphere youth advocate who spoke at a side event, called for an end to “tokenism,” government officials simply meeting with youth to say they’ve done so, rather than actually taking into account the needs and demands of youth.  Other youth advocates noted that youth participation goes beyond inviting a young person to sit at the table while adults make decisions but rather should include creating mechanisms to ensure that youth have the power to contribute to shaping programs and policies that affect them.

Unfortunately, the HLM itself has had mixed results on achieving youth participation. Youth advocates lamented the limited access they had to influence the Outcome Document for this High Level Meeting, many governments did not include any youth delegates in their country delegations to the meeting, and the panels and roundtables at the HLM often had more adult speakers than youth speakers. The young mayor of Geneva, 33 year old  Pierre Maudet who was a part of the Swiss delegation to the HLM, noted that governments are sometimes reticent to have youth speak out because they risk hearing criticisms, dissent and demands, but that when governments take that risk they also hear enthusiastic and important new ideas and innovative solutions to the needs of their populations.

In his remarks at the opening session of the HLM, the Secretary-General asked the youth delegates whether the UN was doing enough for youth. The resounding response from the crowd was, “No!” The Secretary-General responded, “Then we need to do more.” Youth advocates will continue their work to hold him to that promise.

For more updates from the 2011 High Level Meeting on Youth:

Read The Youth Coalition’s newsletter from the HLM The Watchdog

Watch the live webcasts from the High Level Meeting on Youth

And on Twitter, follow @familycareintl and these youth organizations that make up the Sexual and Reproductive Rights Caucus at the HLM: @youth_coalition, @YouAct_Europe, @AdvocatesTweets, @YPEER, @ippf, @GYCA, @ippf_WHR. For more tweets from the HLM, check out the hashtags #youth11 and #IYY

Partnering to promote reproductive health for Latin America’s indigenous women

Martha Murdock is FCI’s vice president for regional programs.

I have just arrived in Lima, Peru, where — together with Alexia Escobar and Maritza Segura, FCI’s national coordinators in Bolivia and Ecuador — I will be attendingthe High Level Meeting on Reproductive Health and Intercultural Care in Latin America.

This meeting, hosted by the Peruvian Ministry of Health and the Organismo Andino de Salud as part of  a regional framework sponsored by the Spanish Agency for International Development (AECID) and the UN Population Fund—UNFPA, will bring together high-level health officials from the health ministries of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Venezuela. FCI, a partner in this regional program, is one of the few NGOs invited to the meeting.

In Latin American and the Caribbean, maternal mortality was reduced by 41% between 1990 and 2008. Looking at overall regional and national data, the many countries in the region seem to be on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal(MDG) 5 target of reducing maternal mortality by ¾ over 20 years. However, when the data is disaggregated by ethnicity,there remain substantial gaps in access to reproductive health services, information, and commodities among indigenous women. Surveys in countries like Guatemala have shown that maternal mortality is up to 3 times higher among indigenous women (211 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) than among non-indigenous women (70 per 100,000).

In seeking to address these gaps and achieve MDG 5 among all population groups, governments in the region recognize the need to adopt an intercultural approach to maternal and reproductive health services. Since 2009, FCI has been working to strengthen the advocacy capacity of indigenous women’s organizations to demand culturally-appropriate health care, and to promote their direct participation in the design and monitoring of maternal health care services that are sensitive to their cultural traditions. We also work with ministries of health across the region to advance maternal health policies and programs that better respond to indigenous women’s cultural expectations and needs.

This week’s meeting will review the progress that has been made so far, share lessons learned, and set a path to define and agree upon a basic set of indicators of culturally-friendly maternal health services. One expected, and important, outcome of the meeting will be the adoption by all of the Ministers of Health of a joint statement that commits to strengthening and further intensifying measures to make maternal health services more culturally acceptable to indigenous women, in order to improve their health status. Follow The FCI Blog to read their final statement, and to stay up to date as FCI closely monitors its implementation.

SRH Accountability in Ecuador (part 2)

Maritza Segura is FCI’s national coordinator in Ecuador. Last week, she and FCI colleagues helped to coordinate the launch of Ecuador’s National Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health Observatory in Quito. You can read Maritza’s previous post about this meeting here. This successful technical meeting, organized by Ecuador’s National Health Council (CONASA) with generous support from the MacArthur Foundation, had a regional profile; at the end of the meeting, Maritza provides this update:

The role of Ecuador’s national Observatory will be critical – it will monitor and produce reports measuring the country’s fulfillment of its obligations around sexual and reproductive health and rights, with a particular focus on diversity, gender, and generational issues and on the rights of women in indigenous communities.

The Quito meeting was designed to foster a regional dialogue about accountability. In addition to Ecuadorian participants, delegates from similar observatories in Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Chile, and Uruguay were invited to share their challenges, strategies, and lessons learned. While Latin America is quite diverse in terms of ethnicity, political dynamics, and other factors, all of the observatories share certain common challenges. Access to relevant data is often difficult, and transparency legislation varies from country to country. Processing statistics, updating data, translating it for different political and technical audiences, and producing relevant and timely reports are all complex, time-consuming, and costly. All of the national observatories shared concerns around their financial sustainability, because this kind of accountability work is only effective if data and analysis are produced on a consistent basis.

Accountability is becoming an increasingly important and visible issue in global health, both nationally and on the international stage, and these three days were an interesting and rewarding learning experience for all of the participants. These observatories, by providing relevant, up-to-date information, are an invaluable tool for strengthening political commitment to maternal health. For representatives of the national observatories, each of which has developed independently and organically based on each country’s unique conditions, this meeting provided a valuable opportunity to compare experiences, share ideas, and build relationships. For FCI’s part, we will continue developing and supporting strategies to articulate this regional vision, one that drives action and impact, demands accountability, ensures equity, and focuses on rights.


Rendición de cuentas en Ecuador (parte 2)

Maritza Segura es la coordinadora nacional de FCI en Ecuador. La semana pasada, junto con otras colegas de FCI, Maritza apoyó la presentación del Observatorio Nacional de Derechos y Salud Sexual y Reproductiva en Quito. La reunión técnica -que tuvo un perfil regional-  fue organizada por el CONASA, y con el generoso apoyo de la Fundación MacArthur, y fue sumamente exitosa. Pueden leer el post anterior de Maritza aquí. Finalizada la reunión, Maritza escribe:

El rol del Observatorio Nacional en Ecuador será fundamental para garantizar la rendición de cuentas. Se dará seguimiento al cumplimiento de las obligaciones del país en relación a la salud y los derechos sexuales y reproductivos, teniendo especialmente en cuenta la diversidad, y las cuestiones de género, de derechos y de interculturalidad.

El encuentro en Quito fue diseñado para promover además un diálogo regional sobre la rendición de cuentas. Además de los actores clave de Ecuador, fueron invitadas al encuentro delegadas de observatorios similares de México, Guatemala, Perú, Chile y Uruguay para compartir sus retos, estrategias y lecciones aprendidas. Si bien América Latina presenta condiciones muy diversas en términos étnicos, de dinámica política y avances jurídicos, todos los observatorios comparten algunas preocupaciones. Por ejemplo, el acceso a datos es a menudo difícil y la legislación sobre transparencia es diferente en cada país. El procesamiento y la actualización de los datos, la producción de informes relevantes y la adaptación y diseminación de la información para las diferentes audiencias técnicas y políticas son procesos complejos, exigentes y costosos.  Todos los observatorios compartes dificultades para su sustentabilidad financiera ya que solamente son efectivos si cuentan con una producción consistente de información actualizada, relevante y de calidad.

La rendición de cuentas es un tema cada vez más destacado en el área de la salud, tanto a nivel global como a nivel nacional y estos tres días constituyeron una experiencia de aprendizaje muy interesante para todos los participantes. Los observatorios tienen un enorme potencial tanto por su capacidad de generar información relevante como de movilizar compromiso político hacia la salud materna. Para los representantes de los Observatorios de ALC la reunión en Quito fue una oportunidad para comparar experiencias, compartir ideas y construir alianzas. Por nuestra parte, FCI continuará promoviendo la articulación de una visión regional que fortalezca la acción y el impacto de los Observatorios, asegurando la equidad y el ejercicio de derechos.

FCI helps launch Ecuador’s first Sexual and Reproductive Rights Observatory

Maritza Segura is FCI’s national coordinator in Ecuador.

FCI, along with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Center for Research, Promotion and Popular Education (CIPEP), provided technical support to Ecuador’s National Health Council (CONASA) for the launch of Ecuador’s first National Sexual and Reproductive Rights Observatory.

The meeting, titled Towards the Ecuadorian Center of Human Rights and Sexual and Reproductive Health, is taking place in Quito from May 30th to June 1st. Participants include representatives from other observatories in the region, including Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, and Uruguay, who are sharing their experiences and lessons learned.

The meeting launches and seeks to strengthen the national Observatory for monitoring and reporting on the rate of compliance with health and reproductive rights, especially in relation to ethnic groups, diversity, gender, and generational issues.

CONASA is a representative body of members of the national health system, comprised of public, private, autonomous, and community health sectors. This meeting will include the nomination, by civil society participant organizations, of a citizen’s oversight board to participate in the construction and methodological definition of the Observatory.

It is expected that, in the medium and longer term, the Observatory will help lead to the reduction of maternal mortality in Ecuador, and will thereby help the country to achieve its targets under MDG (Millennium Development Goal) 5.

FCI is grateful for the generous support from the MacArthur Foundation.


FCI apoya la conformación del primer Observatorio de Salud y Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos del Ecuador

Maritza Segura es coordinador nacional de FCI en Ecuador.

FCI, junto al Fondo de Población de las Naciones Unidas (UNFPA), la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (PAHO), y el Centro de Investigación, Promoción y Educación Popular, apoya al Consejo Nacional de Salud (CONASA) de Ecuador para conformar el primer Observatorio Nacional de Salud y Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos.

Del 30 de mayo al 1ro de junio de 2011 se lleva a cabo en Quito la reunión “Hacia el Observatorio Ecuatoriano de Derechos y Salud Sexual y Reproductiva”, con la participación de representantes de otros observatorios exitosos de la región con el fin de compartir experiencias y lecciones aprendidas, entre ellos de los observatorios de México, Guatemala, Chile y Uruguay.

El encuentro tiene el objetivo de fortalecer la propuesta nacional de un Observatorio para la vigilancia e información sobre él índice de cumplimiento de la salud y los derechos sexuales y reproductivos, especialmente en grupos étnicos, diversidades, por género y generación.

En este marco, el CONASA, como organismo de representación de los integrantes del Sistema Nacional de Salud, conformado por entidades públicas, privadas, autónomas y comunitarias del sector salud, ha previsto que el evento incluya la nominación, por parte de las instituciones y organizaciones de la sociedad civil participantes, de un consejo ciudadano de veeduría que participarán en la construcción y definición metodológica del Observatorio.

Se espera que, a mediano y largo plazo, el accionar del Observatorio ayude al Ecuador a reducir la razón de mortalidad materna y, así, a lograr las metas del ODM 5.

FCI agradece el generoso apoyo de la Fundación MacArthur.



FCI co-sponsoring NYC event on indigenous women

FCI, together with partners UNFPA, the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas, the International Indigenous Women’s Forum—FIMI, and Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency—AECID, are organizing a side event as part of the 10th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The side event — Indigenous Women, Health & Rights: Strengthening indigenous women to realize their right to reproductive health — will feature presentations by indigenous women leaders from Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru. Speakers will discuss ways in which the “Indigenous Women, Health & Rights ” initiative, launched by UNFPA and AECID in 2008, has strengthened the capacity of indigenous women’s organizations to advocate for safe motherhood, and will discuss advances, challenges, and plans for the future. The event will be held on Tuesday, May 17, 2011, at the Beekman Tower Hotel, NYC, from 1 to 3PM. English/Spanish translation will be available.

FCI está co-organizando con UNFPA, el Enlace Continental de Mujeres Indígenas de las Américas, el Foro Internacional de Mujeres Indígenas—FIMI y la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo—AECID, un evento paralelo en el marco de la 10 ª Sesión del Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas de las Naciones Unidas. El evento, titulado “Mujer Indígena, Salud y   Derechos: Fortaleciendo a las mujeres indígenas para la realización de su derecho a la salud reproductiva” contará con presentaciones a cargo de mujeres líderes indígenas de Ecuador, Bolivia y Perú. Las lideresas hablarán sobre lo que ha significado para ellas y sus organizaciones la iniciativa “Mujer Indígena, Salud y Derechos“, lanzada por el UNFPA y la AECID en 2008. La iniciativa se ha centrado en el fortalecimiento de las organizaciones indígenas para abogar por sus derechos reproductivos, en especial la salud materna. El evento tendrá lugar el martes, 17 de mayo 2011, en el Beekman Tower Hotel, Beekman Ballroon, Nueva York, de 13 a 15 horas. Se facilitará interpretación simultánea: español/inglés.

Defending women’s rights at the CPD

Amy Boldosser is Senior Program Officer for Global Advocacy at Family Care International.

As I wrote in a previous post, the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD) held its annual meeting last week in New York. The CPD’s mandate is to further the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, a groundbreaking 1994 agreement that confirmed the central place of women’s rights and access to reproductive health in population and development policy.

UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin
UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin

Remarks by UN leaders made it clear that the stakes in these discussions are very high. In his report to this year’s CPD, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that current funding levels for family planning, reproductive health services, and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS are so low that they jeopardize the fulfillment of both the ICPD Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals. The Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs noted the cost-effectiveness of investments in family planning: “For every dollar spent on modern contraceptives, $1.30 is saved in maternal and newborn care.”  Babatunde Osotimehin, the new UNFPA Executive Director, stated it clearly: “Investing in the health and rights of women and young people is not an expenditure, it is an investment in our future.”

After a long week of intense  negotiations lasting late into the night, the Commission’s final Resolution reaffirmed the ICPD Programme of Action; it also welcomed the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health which aims to reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality.  Support for implementation of the Global Strategy was also reiterated by a number of governments in their formal statements to the CPD.

For those of us who work on global health, the connection between women’s reproductive health and rights and broader development and population issues is an obvious one.  Unfortunately, a small but vocal minority of governments led by the Vatican, which is not a member state but has observer status at the United Nations, refuse to recognize that interconnectedness and opposed rights- affirming language in negotiations on the CPD Resolution for this year. These opposition governments at the CPD raised repeated roadblocks in negotiations on language around women’s rights — and particularly references to gender, abortion, sexuality, reproductive rights,  comprehensive sexuality education, and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people— challenging international commitments that date as far back as the ICPD in 1994.  Their stalling tactics included repeatedly questioning the  definitions of such basic terms as “reproductive health commodities,” “fertility,” and even “girls.”  One African CPD delegate put it best: “A small minority are intent on ignoring the facts on the ground and the need of working on measures to save the lives of women.” In the end, the Commission safeguarded the rights of women and young people to access education and lifesaving services in its final Resolution, but this result did not come without a struggle. This year’s experience shows the urgent need for continued advocacy to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights, both for their own sake and because they are crucial for sustainable development.

The theme of the 2012 CPD will be “Adolescents and youth.” A number of youth-led advocacy groups were key players at this year’s meeting. (You can read about the CPD Youth Caucus here, and can also see video of their powerful statements at the CPD.) The opposition is sure to be out in force again next year, opposing policies that educate and empower young people, and FCI will work in close alliance with youth-led groups and other advocates from around the world to ensure that the development goals laid out at the ICPD, including universal access to reproductive health, finally become a reality for all women and young people.

FCI at the UN Commission on Population & Development

Amy Boldosser is Senior Program Officer for Global Advocacy at Family Care International.

Governments and civil society groups from around the world are gathered at the United Nations in New York for the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) this week, and FCI is here advocating for progressive policies in support of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The theme of this year’s CPD is “Fertility, Reproductive Health and Development” and the Commission is also focusing on the future of the Cairo Programme of Action, a groundbreaking agreement adopted by 180 governments at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994. The ICPD & Cairo Programme of Action are important because they confirm that women’s rights and access to reproductive health are at the center of population and development policy.

FCI's Debra Jones making statement to the 44th CPD.
Debra Jones makes FCI's oral statement

In addition to conducting high level advocacy during the Commission, Family Care International also presented oral and written statements to the Commission highlighting that women — when they can control their fertility, when they are empowered and enabled, and when their rights are recognized — are drivers of economic growth and sustainable development. FCI also linked the ICPD to the Millennium Development Goals, in particular MDG 5 on maternal health, which recognizes that achieving universal access to reproductive health is critical to reducing maternal mortality and to fostering sustainable development.

The ICPD is also reinforced by the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which recognizes that investing in the health of women and children builds more stable, peaceful, and productive societies, reduces poverty, stimulates economic growth, is cost-effective, and helps women and children realize their fundamental human rights. FCI is also focusing on the importance of access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

The CPD will continue its work through the end of the week, and FCI and our advocacy partners are continuing our advocacy efforts to ensure  that women’s rights and gender equality are central in the outcomes of the Commission. Follow The FCI Blog for further posts on the Commission on Population and Development, including updates from side events and plans for next year’s Commission, which will focus on youth.


Making Accountability Count

Written by: Ann Starrs, President, Family Care International

The following was originally posted by Maternal Health Task Force on the MHTF Blog on Jan 25, 2011.

When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon formally launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health last September during the 2010 UN General Assembly meeting, a range of stakeholders made commitments totaling $40 billion for improved maternal and child health programs and services. The Global Strategy, a plan to save the lives of 16 million women and children in the world’s poorest countries, cuts across all the Millennium Development Goals, especially those related to health (MDGs 4, 5 and 6). It is designed to serve as a global roadmap to identify and mobilize resources, policies, and critical interventions, with engagement by governments, donors, academic institutions, health professional associations, NGOs, corporations, and many others.

These ambitious goals and generous pledges, promising though they may be, are not enough to bring real change. That will come only when commitments are translated into real money and concrete action. As my organization, Family Care International, wrote in our own commitment to the Global Strategy, “commitments don’t save lives until they are actually delivered.”

During a strategy meeting in Washington, DC last Friday, I shared an overview (here) on the Global Strategy, noting that accountability will be the key to ensuring that the Global Strategy drives clear, quantifiable progress toward achievement of MDG targets by 2015. The Global Strategy document stated this clearly:

Accountability is essential. It ensures that all partners deliver on their commitments, demonstrates how actions and investment translate into tangible results and better long-term outcomes, and tells us what works, what needs to be improved and what requires more attention.

Last month, the UN announced the establishment of a high-level Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, co-chaired by the President of Tanzania and the Prime Minister of Canada. This Commission, with members from developed and developing countries, academia, civil society and the private sector, is charged with developing a framework for tracking resources and results at the global and country levels. Its two working groups — on ‘accountability for resources’ and ‘accountability for results’ – are already hard at work; the Commission’s draft report is due to the UN this May.

As a member of the results working group, I will return to the MHTF blog soon to solicit your input on appropriate indicators, measurement needs, and accountability mechanisms (each working group has posted a “discussion forum” page here) , and to report back on our progress.