Need for integrated accountability to prioritize women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health through UHC

September 2019

The UN Secretary-General’s (SG) Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman Every Child Every Adolescent (IAP-EWEC) affirmed its presence at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74) by calling for accountable institutions to ensure social justice and good governance towards Health for All, especially those left furthest behind.

At the High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage on 23 September, the IAP issued a statement calling for an integrated health accountability under Universal Health Coverage (UHC), implemented through PHC; prioritize the health of women, children and adolescents and those left furthest behind; and focus on country needs, mechanisms and impact. Evidence shows that PHC can be an effective, equitable and efficient delivery mechanism for UHC, as well as a way to prioritize the health of women, children and adolescents across SDG 3 for health.

On 22 September, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners launched the 2019 Global Monitoring Report which claimed that countries must increase spending on primary healthcare (PHC) by at least 1% of their gross domestic product (GDP) if the world is to close glaring coverage gaps by 2030. The report is a glaring reminder of the importance of accountability.  In the words of Alicia Ely Yamin, who spoke at the event, “good intentions and promises are not enough…The people to whom promises have been made are not targets of charity by citizens of democracies who should hold governments and international institutions to account.”

IAP co-sponsored the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health’s (PMNCH) annual Accountability Breakfast with Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) on 22 September, which was attended by more than 200 country delegates, and representatives from private sector organizations, NGOs, research agencies, UN agencies and other sectors. Dame Carol Kidu reflected on her experience as Minister of Community Development in Papua New Guinea and how this emphasized the need to monitor, review and remedy and act in order to make strides towards UHC. Dr Nicholas Alipui highlighted the need for a strategic and holistic view moving towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) more effectively, by integrating population and demographic projections in analysis and investment planning; factoring in the impact of climate change in all work; and shift to equity-based programming and investment planning to ensure no one is left behind.

Photo Credit: Melanie Einzig

Photo Credit: Melanie Einzig

Kul Chandra Gautam, co-Chair of the IAP, underscored the idea that effective UHC accountability should align with established national review mechanisms for health, rights and SDG impact during an interview UHC: Accountability to Ensure Health for All in the SDG Media Zone, with H.E. Zweli Mkhize, South African Minister of Health, which was moderated by SABC correspondent Noma Bolani. “We need to make sure that through the whole chain, from the parliamentarians through the medical doctors through community health workers, everybody takes their responsibility and we have strong accountability mechanisms for all” Gautam said.

Watch the full interview.

Finally, the IAP met for their annual meeting on the auspices of UNGA on 24-25 September. The main decision of the meeting was to issue a landmark report for 2020. Requested by the UN-SG’s Executive Office, in this report the IAP will make recommendations related to an integrated health accountability mechanism, under UHC, focusing on those furthest left behind on health and SDGs: often women, children and adolescents and others in the most fragile settings. As the only global independent accountability mechanism so far under the SDGs, the IAP will distil lessons from a decade of the Every Woman Every Child accountability; and from new analysis make recommendations on strengthening accountability at all levels with systems to Monitor, Review, Remedy and Act, to achieve the 2030 Agenda and realize related rights of all people.