Welcome to the first report of the independent Expert Review Group (iERG) on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health. This is the first of four annual reviews we will complete up to and including the Millennium Development Goal target date of 2015. Here, we summarise progress on the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health and the recommendations of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health. As the first report of the iERG, we provide the foundation for our subsequent reviews.
Our shared view is that independent accountability is, and will increasingly become, a powerful force to accelerate progress towards both national and international health and development targets. The now rather cliched phrase “More money for health and more health for the money” implies a mechanism to measure the effectiveness of aid commitments. As a result, accountability has become a compelling idea in global health. But accountability needs to be based on certain core principles—clarity as to stakeholder responsibility for action; accurate measurement; independent verification; impartial, transparent, and participatory review; and clear recommendations for future action.
Women and children have enjoyed spectacular gains in their health status in recent years. These successes have been supplemented by unprecedented opportunities to go further—to end, once and for all, preventable maternal, newborn, and child mortality. But the iERG is also conscious of the urgent actions needed now to assist countries that have so far been unable to implement known effective interventions to save the lives of women and children. We hope that our report, and the renewed debate and advocacy we believe it can generate, will accelerate these urgent actions. We want to see independent accountability not only become a new norm in global health, but also demonstrably improve the lives of women and children worldwide. Ultimately, that is the goal we are accountable for supporting—through monitoring, reviewing, and proposing remedies—and which the global community is responsible for delivering.
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