Women and children to benefit from new recommendations to improve health accountability

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Geneva, 3 May 2011 – New recommendations calling for an unprecedented level of accountability to save the lives of more women and children in developing countries were agreed today by the United Nations Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health which met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. These new approaches will help ensure that pledges are honoured and resources spent in the most effective way to save lives.

The ten recommendations include specific approaches to:

  • Help countries develop better ways of gathering important health data to improve understanding of health needs and where resources should be focused
  • Develop a coordinated system for tracking health spending on women and children
  • National and global oversight to establish a feedback mechanism that supports continuous improvement in delivery of health services for women and children

To better understand the current situation and impact of efforts, the Commission advised monitoring progress based on specific indicators, such as the number of women who have access to skilled care during childbirth and the number of children treated for pneumonia.

“All partners are mutually accountable for the promises they make and the health policies and programmes they design and implement,” said Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and co-chair of the Commission with Stephen Harper, Canadian Prime Minister. “Tracking resources and results of public health spending is critical for transparency, credibility and ensuring that much-needed funds are used to save the lives of women and children.”

The recommendations, which come after more than five months of in-depth discussions and work across a high-level group of global leaders, were delivered at the conclusion of the second and final meeting of the Commission. The goal is to improve transparency, ensure consistency in reporting and more effectively track resources spent on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.

“With mobile connectivity now widespread in even the poorest countries, ICTs offer a powerful opportunity to bridge the health development gap. New tools like social media can also be used to create safe and empowering spaces for women to obtain accurate, up-to-the-minute health information,” said ITU Secretary-General and co-vice chair of the Commission, Dr Hamadoun Touré.

“What gets measured, gets done. Timely, reliable and accessible health information is critical for improving health outcomes for women and children,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization and co-vice chair of the Commission. “One of our top priorities must be assisting countries to build the capacity needed to gather this vital health information.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon tasked the Commission with developing a mechanism for holding donors accountable for their pledges and holding countries responsible for how well the money is spent. The Commission is a key element of the UN Global Strategy for Women's and Children’s Health, which aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children under five years of age by 2015, in order to help achieve the relevant Millennium Development Goals.

The Commission also recognized that new information and communication technologies (ICTs) will be instrumental in the collection, sharing and analysis of health data.

The final report of the Commission will now be submitted to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It will be reported at upcoming international meetings, including the World Health Assembly in Geneva later this month, the G8 Summit in Deauville, France, and UN meetings in New York in September.

More details on the Commission can be found at:

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Parkes,
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
+41 22 730 6135
+41 79 599 1439

Christy Feig,
Director of Communications
World Health Organization
+41 79 251 7055

Marie-Agnes Heine,
Communications Officer
World Health Organization
+41 79 449 5784