July 10, 2015 – As the global community gathers in Ethiopia for the 3rd UN Financing for Development Conference (FFD), ACTION calls on donors, governments, the private sector, and global mechanisms to renew their ambition for a well-financed global development agenda that is focused on reaching those who have been left behind.
“The Addis Ababa Action Agenda will be evidence of our ambition for the future and our commitment to justice and equality,” said Hannah Bowen, ACTION Director. “Life has improved for many over the last 15 years, but decision makers must come to FFD ready to say how we all – civil society, businesses, governments – will finance continued progress that reaches the poorest and most vulnerable people in our world.”
FFD at a Global Development Crossroads
Since the creation of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, history has been on our side. The world has halved the number of people living in extreme poverty, the mortality rate for children under five has dropped almost 50%, and millions more children live past their fifth birthday.
“Health and development go hand-in-hand, so health must remain at the center of the global development agenda. But rosy progress statistics are masking deeper inequalities in health that risk setting back the sustainable development agenda,” said Bobby John, Managing Director at Æquitas Consulting Pvt. Ltd, an ACTION partner. “At FFD, decision makers will have a choice to make. They can choose to stay on the current path and ignore those left behind, or invest in strong, equitable health systems and see even bigger dividends for sustainable development.”
Recent data from the World Health Organization shows that 400 million people – many of whom are poor and living in remote areas – lack access to at least one basic health service. And UNICEF findings have shown that children from the poorest households are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as children from the richest households. These figures show that there are still barriers to everyone – no matter where they are born – sharing in the benefits of global development.
A focus on health equity is clearly the moral choice — but it is also the effective one. Equity-focused approaches to health are proven to avert 60% more deaths in low-income countries.
Financing Health Equity
On the eve of FFD, ACTION partners RESULTS UK and the Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium (KANCO), along with longtime ACTION ally World AIDS Campaign International, have released a new report highlighting that an increase in both donor funds and domestic resources is essential to ensuring the health equity agenda is fully realized.
The health sector has long been at the forefront of efforts to bring innovative funding solutions and public-private partnerships to tackle global challenges. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Gavi, the Vaccines Alliance, and the Global Financing Facility for RMNCAH are just a few examples. Continued support of these mechanisms, along with increased donor commitments like the UK's recent 0.7% Act are critical, but the health community must continue to push itself and expand partnerships with the private sector.
While donor funding has driven incredible health progress, it cannot deliver sustainable development on its own.
"Countries must be in the driver’s seat when it comes to providing health care for citizens, acting relentlessly and creatively to ensure all citizens can access health care, " said Allan Ragi, Executive Director of Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium, ACTION's partner in Kenya. "In addition to raising the priority of health within national budgets, leaders can promote innovative financing and the strengthening of national social health insurance programs to ensure everyone can access health care."
The Peril and Promise of FFD
Heading into FFD, it’s not a good sign that the draft Addis Ababa Action Agenda text has already been weakened, losing important pieces like time-bound commitments for donor countries to meet aid-giving targets. And while there is a civil society gathering before the conference begins, the voices and opinion of civil society must be integrated into the entire conference in a meaningful and substantial way.
The MDGs kicked off laudable ambition for sustainable development – which has been captured in the new Sustainable Development Goals – but this ambition will be meaningless without the financial rules, mechanisms, and commitments to get the job done.
“If things are not turned around in Addis Ababa, if our leaders cannot make the political decisions necessary to ensure we have the resources needed to build a more just and equitable world, then history will undoubtedly judge us harshly,” said Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK, an ACTION partner. “It’s time to build the world we want.”
ACTION is a global partnership of 11 advocacy organizations in donor and high burden countries working to influence policy and mobilize resources to fight diseases of poverty and improve equitable access to health services.