The conference on 26 January 2009 at the Royal Society in London brought together speakers from the Global Fund, the World Bank, GAVI Alliance, OECD, the UK Government and AMREF and delegates from academia, civil society, government and the private sector.
“Speakers highlighted that for health aid to be delivered more effectively, developing countries need to have greater ownership over health financing in their countries as well as be mutually accountable,” said Elaine Ireland, Global Health Advocacy Officer for Action for Global Health.
“One reason among many that poorer countries struggle to fund their health services is that there is little emphasis on the need to provide longer-term predictable funding from donors,” she said. “The speakers really emphasised the need for a more comprehensive approach to health financing that considers funding health systems and disease-specific approaches.”
Civil society’s influence on aid financing was widely discussed. Civil society plays a key role in holding governments and donors to account for delivering aid for health and increasing it where needed. Their engagement is needed in setting the priorities and in policy making from the outset.
There is however an issue about how to ensure that civil society is truly representative of all the relevant constituencies. This extends to the importance of Southern civil society advocating for the implementation of the Paris Declaration on AID Effectiveness and the subsequent Accra Agenda for Action.
Ambassador Jan Cedergren, Chairperson of the OECD-DAC Working Party of Aid Effectiveness stressed the importance of continuing to press for improvements in aid effectiveness, using the health sector to assess progress, starting with a follow up high-level meeting in March.
Ivan Lewis MP, Under-Secretary of State for International Development said the High-level Task Force on Innovative Financing would announce new funding for health in the coming months. It is hoped that innovative financing will provide funding that is additional to existing commitments on aid for health.
Lewis reiterated the UK’s commitment to the 0.7% target for Official Development Assistance (ODA) as a percentage of Gross National Income, despite accusations that it had dropped from 0.5% to 0.36%.
Julian Schweitzer reported that the World Bank’s investments would be more “pro-poor” during a time of recession and GAVI Alliance’s Julian Lob-Levyt said the financial situation meant a “rigorous prioritisation of what we do” and welcomed developments in innovative financing.
The Global Fund said it was tracking how it operated in relation to the Paris Principles, but Christoph Benn highlighted the financing gap of $5 billion that is needed for the Global Fund to deliver effective funding for AIDS, TB and malaria.
Grace Mukasa of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) spoke of the impact of interventions at community level. She said results were linked to building the capacity of civil society organisations that are still missing from negotiations.
It is anticipated that the International Health Partnership and Related Initiatives (IHP+) will play a role in increasing the political commitment amongst donors for them to better coordinate their aid.
The conference recommendations will now be developed into a plan for coordinated action among UK organisations to influence the UK Government and European donors. The plan will call upon the donors to maintain their commitments to aid for health, ensure this aid is delivered effectively, and where possible advocate for an increase in resources for health to be allocated to developing countries.
Find out more from the Action for Global Health website. For further details of the conference or copies of presentations, please contact Elaine Ireland.