Speech: Opening remarks at the Fourth stakeholder meeting: Accountability for women’s and children’s health – now and in the post-2015 agenda

Speech: Opening remarks at the Fourth stakeholder meeting: Accountability for women’s and children’s health – now and in the post-2015 agenda
Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General
14 January 2014

Colleagues in public health, development partners, representatives of sister agencies and civil society organizations, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to this fourth meeting of stakeholders as we continue our efforts to improve accountability for women’s and children’s health. I thank all of you for coming to Geneva. We have a good mix of perspectives, experiences, and contributions at many levels represented in this room.

We are at the midpoint in a time-bound process of improving accountability. This is a good time to take stock of where we stand, the lessons we have learned, and how we can institutionalize these lessons as the international community moves into the post-2015 era.

When I was asked to serve as a vice-chair for the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, I knew we were embarking on a journey into largely uncharted territory.

Accountability for resources and results has long been deeply desired, but rarely tackled in a rigorous and systematic way. I also knew that establishing an accountability framework specifically for women’s and children’s health would be an especially hard test case, perhaps even the hardest test case imaginable.

As we all know, maternal and child mortality cannot be brought down without addressing fundamental weaknesses in health systems that have been neglected for decades. Addressing accountability for women’s and children’s health means addressing long-standing problems with health infrastructures and services, inadequate numbers of appropriately trained and motivated staff, and the absence in most countries of reliable systems for civil registration and vital statistics.

Accountability means counting. Transparency is impossible in the absence of reliable data. It means improving the way donors and recipient countries work together, the way information is collected and used, and the capacity to track resource flows throughout the health sector.

It means ensuring equitable access to services, fair financing for care, and, as the independent Expert Review Group so clearly reminds us, high quality care that is person-centred, not intervention-centred…