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New U.N. Commission Will Track Donors’ Pledges On Maternal, Child Health

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete will co-chair a new “U.N. commission tasked with tracking whether $40 billion in pledges from countries and aid groups are really flowing to efforts to improve the health of mothers and young children in poor countries, and what impact the programs have,” the Globe and Mail reports (Clark, 12/16).

“The new body – the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health – will develop an accountability framework to help countries monitor where resources go and how they are spent, and will provide the evidence needed to show which programmes are most effective to save the lives of women and children,” according to the U.N. News Centre. Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the U.N. International Telecommunication Union, and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan “will be the vice-chairs of the Commission, which will hold its first meeting on 26 January next year and present its final report by May,” the news service writes.

The creation of the commission “follows the adoption by stakeholders of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health at the Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York in September,” the U.N. News Centre adds (12/16).

According to a press release (.pdf) from the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, the commission’s proposed accountability framework will: “track results and resource flows at global and country levels; identify a core set of indicators and measurement needs for women’s and children’s health; propose steps to improve health information and registration of vital events, including births and deaths, in low-income countries; and explore opportunities for innovation in information technology to improve access to reliable information on resources and outcomes” (12/16). 

“Resources come with an expectation of results,” Chan said, adding that “[a]ccountability is vital. It means keeping promises and measuring results. To measure results, we need much stronger systems for health information. The commission will guide us in all these areas,” the U.N. News Centre writes. Harper said the the new group “will help ensure that countries follow through on the commitments they made at the G8 Summit in Muskoka (Canada) and the Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York to help women and children, and that resources are spent in an effective and responsible way” (12/16).

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