Global leaders, development partners, youth and advocates from around world reaffirmed their support for gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women at the Women Deliver 2019 conference earlier this month in Vancouver. The passion and dedication of conference attendees was evident throughout the week—from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterating Canada’s commitment to improving the health of women and girls to all the young leaders sharing the stage with world leaders to tell their stories and fight for change.
This agenda is bold and requires financial commitment, political will and determination from governments, development partners, civil society, private sector and others. External assistance is vital, but country ownership—including countries mobilizing their own sustainable resources—will play a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of women and girls globally. Here are three reasons why:
1. Development assistance is not enough
We know that development assistance plays a critically important role in helping countries invest in the health and nutrition of their citizens. It continues to save millions of lives, and with the right focus, can help empower millions of women, adolescents and girls.
Unfortunately, we also know that our current model of development financing is not enough. The scale is not sufficient, and it is not leading to sustainability. The Global Financing Facility (GFF) is supporting countries to take the lead to finance their own health and development priorities, bringing all key partners together at country level to ensure that financing is better aligned to improve the health of women, children and adolescents and move towards UHC.
2. Domestic resources are at the core of country ownership and sustainability
We all know but often forget that domestic resources make up the lion share of health financing for countries, and domestic resources are key to country ownership and sustainable financing.
The challenges we see in many countries are that these resources are not reaching those people with the highest need, and many countries are still investing too little in health and key issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights. Using small amounts of grant funds, the GFF helps countries to improve the use of current resources and increase domestic funding over time.
We’ve seen some impressive progress in the countries we currently support, even in ones with the lowest income that are considered fragile states. For example, through its work with the GFF, Cameroon is on track to quadruple its allocation of health financing to primary and secondary facilities where the majority of reproductive, maternal, newborn child and adolescent health services are delivered, from 6% to 22% by 2020.
3. The needs are urgent
We are far off track on our global 2030 targets, and millions of women, children and adolescents are dying from preventable causes. Addressing access to quality services–often in remote or underserved regions—and filling a significant financing gap to address these challenges is a key goal of the GFF partnership. Aligning our efforts around country priorities and empowering and enabling governments to mobilize domestic resources will foster country ownership and sustainable financing to address these ambitious, urgent challenges.
Whether we call it stepping up the fight, walking the talk, or delivering for women—the point is that we all agree—it’s time to act. We must work together to ensure countries can deliver for the health of their people.