26 May 2015

A discussion about progress in effective development cooperation in health, challenges and opportunities, and the official launch of the IHP+ 2014 monitoring report: Geneva, 20 May 2015.

IHP+ event at World Health Assembly

“If we align behind countries’ health strategies, we will achieve better results,” said Finn Schleimann, from the IHP+ core team, opening the lunchtime meeting, at the World Health Assembly in Geneva. Fifty participants including IHP+ signatories from developing country governments, civil society organizations (CSOs) and development partners all met to discuss progress and challenges in effective development cooperation (EDC) in health. The place of IHP+ in the post-2015 development framework also featured in discussions. 

Launch of Monitoring Report

The event was the official launch of the IHP+ Results monitoring report and scorecards, and the findings from the report formed the basis of the discussion. The monitoring exercise showed that developing countries have generally not gone backwards in effective development cooperation, but unfortunately this is not the case for development partners. Some development partners have regressed in terms of recording aid on developing countries’ budget (aid on budget) and the proportion of aid channeled through national systems has declined compared to earlier years.

Dr Imad Kayona, Director General of Planning and International Health Department in the Ministry of Health, Sudan, emphasized that the monitoring exercise was important for their country. “The monitoring process is an important tool for tracking performance of IHP+ signatories, and is a good advocacy tool. The country-led process is a good development. In Sudan it enhanced country dialogue between the government, CSOs and development partners, and resulted in an increase of development partners involved in the process. We need to institutionalize this monitoring process in our national M&E frameworks. Some of the monitoring indicators are now part of our M&E framework,” he said.  

The monitoring exercise showed that while governments see that CSOs participate more in health policy and planning processes, CSOs often feel that it is tokenistic and not meaningful. CSOs are often expected to perform a ‘watchdog’ role in effective development cooperation, holding governments to account. From the panel, Bruno Rivalan, Policy and Advocacy Manager from Global Health Advocates, and the alternate Northern IHP+ CSO representative, argued that CSOs should be seen beyond such a watchdog role. “There is a growing consensus that involving CSOs in health policy is not only the right thing to do, but it also leads to more effective and more impactful health policies,” said Bruno. 

From the panel, Dr Marijke Winjroks, Chief of Staff, from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, responded to a question about the monitoring exercise and progress on financial indicators. She pointed out that the monitoring exercise measured the Global Fund’s behaviour before their new funding model came into place. “The new Global Fund strategy launched in March 2014 has a different way of supporting countries, and predictability of funding should be better now and close to 100%. Countries now get up front information about the funding that will be available. Countries can submit concept notes in a cycle that is aligned with their own planning and financial cycles. Also new, is that the concept note should be based on the national strategic plan and our technical review panel checks this.” 

EDC progress and IHP+ post-2015 

From the panel, Dr Lamine Yansane, Health Policy Advisor, from the Ministry of Health in Guinea argued that coordination and harmonization is important in crisis situations, such as ebola. “The first thing we did was to get a national plan for ebola; we needed each partner to use their comparative advantage. We put in place a strong reporting and monitoring and evaluation system, and a single report for all the partners. We have accepted that if we work together, we all get better results. This coordination allows us to rationalize our efforts. Coordination is an ongoing experience – it is continuous – each day we must try,” said Dr Yansane.  

Dr Lo Veasnakiry, Director, Department of Planning and Health Information at the Ministry of Health in Cambodia, explained how Cambodia has achieved such significant improvements in development cooperation effectiveness. “From a Ministry of Health policy and planning perspective, we have a joint annual review process, a joint annual budget and joint action plans. This encourages development partner support behind Ministry of Health priorities. The challenge we currently face is for development partners to use one M&E framework. We will renew and develop our M&E framework so that the development partners will be willing to use it,” said Dr Veasnakiry.  

Japan is a new signatory to IHP+, and Dr Takao Toda, Director General For Human Development at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), spoke on the panel about Japan’s long history of working closely with partners. “JICA and Japan maybe the newcomer in IHP+, but as many of you know, we are an old friend and have been working for a long time with you all.” He also emphasized the dynamic nature of the IHP+ partnership and called for south-south and triangular cooperation to go further and be described as ‘multi-angular’, incorporating all global experience and encouraging lesson sharing between all nations. 

Brenda Killen, Deputy Director of the Development Cooperation Directorate, at the OECD Brenda Killen, spoke about the post-2015 development framework saying that, “IHP+ is the right type of structure for post-2015. It has a broad range of partners, and encourages equal voices around the table. It also has access to evidence to show what is working, and how.” 

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