The title of my article today was the communique slogan for the recently concluded 3rd W.H.O/PMNCH Forum that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa; Monday 30th June – Tuesday 1st July 2014. It was arguably rated as one of the most influential political meeting on health in recent years. It was a gathering of about 1,200 participants from 60 or more countries hosted by the Government of South Africa, PMNCH, Countdown to 2015, A Promise Renewed and the independent Expert Review Group.
A commitment for the women and children was demonstrated by leaders such as Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and South Africa Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, PMNCH board chair Mrs Graça Machel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Also Ministers, Heads of Agencies – WHO’s Dr Margaret Chan, and UNFPA’s Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin – representatives of the Secretary-General, traditional leaders, civil society, private sector, many African Health Ministers and 60 youth leaders who developed their own Youth Outcome Document.
The meeting also launched the much-awaited reports: The Every Newborn Action Plan (along with 40 commitments to Every Woman Every Child), the Countdown to 2015 report and the Success Factors report. Through the Success Factors, highlight of the importance of working with sectors beyond health were featured.
At the end of the meeting a draft communiqué was presented which contain lots of useful information and call to attention expected of all of us for the sake of our women and children.
Ensuring the health and wellbeing of every woman, child, newborn and adolescent, the meeting reaffirm that the health of women, newborns, children and adolescents is a human right and at the heart of a people-centered approach to sustainable development. It also applaud the progress in almost halving global maternal and child mortality since 1990 and note in particular the achievements on women and children’s health since the 2010 launch of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, the related Every Woman Every Child movement, and regional initiatives such as the African Union’s CARMMA and the Maputo Plan of Action.
It however observed that progress has been uneven in many countries, with marginalized and underserved groups, including adolescents and newborns making the least progress. It also recognize the right of marginalized and underserved groups, including young people, to actively participate as partners in the design of policies and strategies that affect their lives and health.
Also stress that universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including quality, comprehensive and integrated sexual and reproductive health information, education, services and supplies, is central to ending preventable maternal, newborn, child and adolescent morbidity and mortality and preventing stillbirths. It reaffirm that country leadership, including both governments and civil society, is vital for the success of these efforts.
It also call on the following
- Invest in poor and marginalized populations and in other groups requiring special attention, such as newborns and adolescents. Support community-led efforts to address these challenges and advance inclusion.
- Invest in high-impact health interventions, such as immunization; skilled attendance at birth and quality care for mothers and newborns; access to contraception; prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HIV, malaria and TB, as set out in the Global Investment Framework for Women’s and Children’s Health and the Commission on Investing in Health.
- Invest in high-impact, health-enhancing interventions in other sectors to improve education, skills and employment; access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene; nutrition; rural electrification; roads; and women’s political and economic participation, including preventing early and forced marriage.
- Couple these investments with long-term strategies that ensure sustainability through innovations and strengthening health systems to facilitate scaled-up access to quality health services.
For the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, targets and indicators, the meeting emphasize the need to;
- Include, at a minimum, a standalone health goal to uphold health as a human right and to maximize access to health and wellbeing, end preventable mortality and morbidity and meet individual demand for sexual and reproductive health and contraception and to be aware that other goals might emerge, for example on RMNCH.
- Endorse global targets for 2030 to reduce child mortality to 25 or fewer deaths per 1,000 live births, newborn mortality to 12 of fewer deaths per 1,000 live births, and to reduce maternal mortality in all countries to a global ratio of less than 70 per 100,000 live births and a minimum of 75 percent of demand for contraceptives is met by modern methods.
- Commit to differentiated targets and indicators to guarantee focus on key populations including adolescents, marginalized and underserved groups, and to take into account different levels of development in countries.
It also calls on countries to do the following;
- Establish shared goals with health-enhancing sectors, such as education, nutrition, water and sanitation, rural electrification, roads, skills and employment.
- Develop capacity for multi-stakeholder and multi-sector partnerships in order to maximize health outcomes and the contribution that better health makes to other sectors.
- Strengthen the capacity of civil society and ensure the meaningful engagement of young people and other key populations in policy-making and implementation, as well as in holding stakeholders to account.
- Develop civil registration and vital statistics systems and strengthen national health information systems to collect and publish key RMNCH data, including for neglected groups such as newborns and adolescents.
- Support good governance and leadership at all levels of government, civil society, the private sector and the global community, strengthened by the use of timely, reliable data and evidence for transparency in decision-making and accountability.
In conclusion no one should be left behind and there is no room for complacency.
This article was 1st published in Daily Trust Newspaper of 15th July 2014 by Dr Aminu Magashi ( firstname.lastname@example.org)