A FOCUS ON HEALTH FINANCING FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN AFRICA
By Liz Busisa
Some of the world’s poorest countries have made significant progress in improving the health of their people with support from donors. Smart, scaled and sustainable financing is needed to support such countries’ efforts to save and improve the lives of women, children and adolescents. This calls for a transformational change in financing development. Thus, the United Nations (UN), in partnership with the World Bank Group, launched the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in 2015. This became a financing arm and an implementation platform of “Every Woman Every Child.”
The GFF Annual Report of 2016-2017 focuses on the progress countries have made in improving the health and wellbeing of their women, children and adolescents.
GFF has been significant in complementing domestic resource mobilization by closing the financial gap of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition (RMNCAH-N). This has been done in 3 ways: by making financing of RMNCAH-N more efficient, by crowding in additional domestic resources and, by further mobilizing external assistance and improving coordination of this financing. The GFF creates a feedback loop which enables countries to track progress and learn from it.
Even though the GFF has not existed long enough for some countries to enable them track changes or progress, it still has been a pillar for the countries to set targets for achieving their Standard Development Goals (SDGs) on a long-term basis.
There are countries that have progressed from the design phase of the GFF to the implementation phase between 2016 and beginning of 2017. Kenya, Cameroon and the DRC are some of these countries, while Ethiopia and Mozambique are still in the design phase.
Progress of Implementation and Country Ownership of GFF
Tanzania has been on the forefront in implementing the GFF. It has exhibited promise to broaden the accessibility of health services for the RMNCAH-N by stating implementation in regions with the poorest health outcomes and highest poverty levels.
Country ownership entails a transparent and inclusive system where countries are free to choose which partners they will engage to improve financing of the health care for women, children and adolescents. Cameroon has seized the opportunity to strengthen the coordination of partners in her health sector. For example, the Ministry of Health in Cameroon launched the GFF in an inclusive manner where many stakeholders form different sectors were included, even international ones. This opened doors for a successful health financing in the country and the process is still visible. It is this consultation process from both local and international stakeholders that has built broad ownership of the GFF process in Cameroon.
Kenya being in the implementation phase of the GFF process means that it is garnering financial support from both local and international stakeholders and owning the process to improve healthcare for its women, children and adolescents.
Despite being in this phase, the entire implementation process has been threatened by a recent probe into a corruption scandal that saw Ksh. 5 billion go missing from the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the last financial year. The government of the day in its early stages of power sought to remove maternity bills by ensuring that there are free maternity services throughout county government hospitals in the country. This effort was threatened as a result of the missing money, part of it that was allocated for free maternity services.
This scandal threatened donor funding to the MoH by USAID Kenya, which was to donate about Ksh. 10 billion to the health sector. Therefore, the implementation process of the GFF and country ownership that seeks to bring stakeholders on board to health financing in Kenya has become wanting until corruption is ultimately ripped out of the system; this has become the proverbial wishes being horses so that beggars would ride. The ball has fallen in the Government’s court through the MoH to grapple this menace of corruption as a priority to ensure health financing through the GFF process is gradually implemented.
Liz is a lawyer and legal and policy writer for Mtoto News
Photo courtesy of MamaYe
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