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MLI Technical Session in Geneva, Switzerland

May 20, 2009

In order to foster strong relationships between the MLI countries and to facilitate peer learning, MLI brought country delegations together to discuss donor harmonization and alignment in Geneva during the World Health Assembly  On May 20, 2009 delegations from the Ministries of Health of Ethiopia, Mali, Senegal, Nepal, and Sierra Leone met at the World Health Assembly to address the International Health Partnership(IHP+) compact process. Mali, Ethiopia and Nepal recently completed their own country compacts with the IHP+ and their donor communities and came prepared to discuss the process and current implementation challenges with the other MLI country delegations. The session provided a good opportunity to continue the global dialogue on donor harmonization and to discuss in more detail the benefits, challenges, and overall impact of participating in the IHP+ process.

Dr. Nejmudin, the head of the Planning and Programming Department at the Federal Ministry of Health in Ethiopia, described Ethiopia’s ultimate goal of “one plan, one budget, one report.” His goal echoes the true purpose of the compact process: to streamline donor assistance in order to achieve effective resource utilization.  Ethiopia has already made strides toward this goal.  Seven development partners have signed a federal-level joint financing agreement and two development partners have contributed a total of about $100,000,000 to a pooled fund for health.

Minister Touré of Mali echoed this sentiment and noted that donor harmonization is a good tool for working toward the Millennium Development Goals.  Dr. Salif Samaké, Director of the Planning and Statistics Unit in the Ministry of Health in Mali, further described how signing the compact in April has led to better dialogue and stronger relationships among partners in the health sector.  He stated that the current goal is to build confidence within the government and to build trust between the government and the donor partners.  

Nepal is similarly working to bring together health partners to advance its policy of health care for all.  Nepal signed a compact last February with six development partners.  Dr. Pradhan, Chief of the Policy Planning and International Cooperation Division of the Ministry of Health and Population in Nepal, emphasized the importance of working with civil society and finding a way to coordinate among various health initiatives.  He reports that the Ministry is advocating for 10% of the national budget to be reserved for health.

Perhaps what is most striking is the similarity of concerns among the country delegations.  Throughout the session a few major challenges repeatedly emerged regarding donor harmonization: the length of time needed to bring partners together, the predictability of funding, and the difficulty of fostering cooperation among donors.  However, countries found strong government leadership to be an asset when facing these issues, as well as the goodwill and the mutual commitment of each party to the ultimate goal.  As more countries progress through the IHP+ process, events like the Geneva technical session that engage countries in dialogue can help health leaders make informed decisions and share their experiences at a global level.

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