White Ribbon Alliance

HPP and Tonte

Turning to the Unfinished Business of Maternal and Child Health

May 18, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC—The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged to end preventable maternal mortality by 2035. On May 7, the USAID-funded Health Policy Project (HPP) held a forum titled “Making the Case for Mothers: Improving Lives through Policy” to explore the central roles of global leadership, local partnerships, financing, and evidence-informed policy and advocacy in achieving this ambitious goal. More than 100 members of the international development community, policymakers, and representatives of think tanks and donor organizations attended the session at HPP’s Futures Group headquarters or participated online.

Moderated by Jeff Jordan, president and CEO of the Population Reference Bureau, this event was one of a series designed as an opportunity for HPP and others—USAID, in-country partners, and implementers—to share their knowledge with the global health community.

Jennifer Adams, who gave the forum’s keynote address, is USAID’s deputy assistant administrator in the Bureau for Global Health. She described this period—as the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) give way to the post-2015 development agenda—as “a moment for reflection.” The MDGs made significant progress, she said, but there’s a lot of unfinished business, which will require money. In particular, maternal and child health has been chronically underfunded; the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in Support of Every Woman Every Child, which USAID and others have joined to create, will help to turn that around. USAID’s financial commitment to the GFF is part of its larger “maternal health vision for action,” which focuses on enabling and mobilizing individuals and communities; advancing high-quality, respectful care; and strengthening health systems. Ms. Adams said policy is an important means for holding governments accountable for their actions and inaction.