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Three MLI Countries Discuss the IHP Compact Process

May 20, 2009

The May 20, 2009 MLI Technical Session in Geneva during the World Health Assembly provided a forum for Ethiopia, Mali, and Nepal to discuss their experiences on the topic of donor harmonization and alignment, specifically focused on the International Health Partnership (IHP+) compact process. The MLI countries, Ethiopia, Mali 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.

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 affirmed 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 eight 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, certain major challenges repeatedly emerged regarding donor harmonization: the length of time needed to bring partners together, the lack of predictability of funding, and the difficulty of fostering cooperation among donors. Each Ministry 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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