Mauritania’s Country Compact: what difference has it made?
What difference does signing a Country Compact make and what are the challenges of doing so? Dr. Ould Mahjoub Isselmou, Director of Programming for Cooperation, shares the experiences of Mauritania.
On 9 May 2012, the Minister of Health of Mauritania, HE Ba Housseinou Hamady presided over the signing of the National Compact between the governments and development partners, to support the health sector. In June 2013, IHP+ spoke with Dr Isselmou, Director of Programming for Cooperation in the Ministry of Health, and asked him how the Mauritania Compact came about, and what effect it has had so far on signatories’ behaviour.
The country compact is designed as a platform to coordinate the support by all partners involved in health in Mauritania, and to harmonize efforts to implement the national health strategy. The preparation of the Compact began in 2010, with the development of the national health sector plan; first a comprehensive situation analysis was conducted, based on which a set of strategic priorities has been identified and costed, with the goal of achieving long-term impact in the health system.
A Technical Coordination Committee contacted all potential partners, and then negotiated to produce a Compact that everyone was prepared to sign. Sixteen partners including the Minister of Economic Affairs and Development, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Finance, Development Partners (bilateral and multilateral), international civil society organizations and the private sector, signed the Compact. Some partners did not sign the Compact, for example the Islamic Development Bank, who preferred to wait until later (and have yet to sign). Dr Isselmou stressed the importance of a consensual approach to establishing the Compact, with all the partners involved from the beginning.
Since signing the Compact, Dr Isselmou said that there have been positive changes in partner behaviour. “All the partners are more engaged and try harder to align to country systems. They are now obliged to consult and make their contributions according to the national health strategy. The Government has increased its engagement and financial contribution to the health sector. Development Partners also give more information about their financial priorities.”
All the partners who signed the Compact are represented on the Coordination Committee which meets every three months, and on the Technical Committee which meets every month. They help provide recommendations and improvements to the National Health Strategy. Dr Isselmou said that the National Health Strategy must align with the Mid-Term Expenditure Framework, if it is to be effective. All the partners produce one annual report to examine the implementation of the strategy and the level of engagement of different partners.
Speaking of his hopes for the future, Dr Isselmou said, “We hope that all the conditions are met to effectively put in place the national health strategy and health sector plan. However, there are challenges, particularly in relation to monitoring and evaluation. We have not finished building this yet. We also need greater harmonization to allow us to work under one single budget.”
“It is very important that all the partners respect the Compact. It is a moral decision to sign the Compact but the fact that they have signed it does not mean they automatically change their behaviour. Sometimes behaviour does not change at all,” he continued. He urged Development Partners to be conscientious, following the signing of the Compact.
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