New Delhi: Union Health Minister J P Nadda on Friday urged nations to work together and carve out mechanisms of partnerships to reach Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) even as 22 countries including India pledged to speed up their efforts to end preventable child and maternal deaths.
Through the 'Delhi Declaration', which was signed at the end of a two-day 'Global Call to Action Summit 2015' by health ministers and heads of country delegations from 22 countries, the nations committed to hold themselves accountable to this commitment through a joint platform monitoring.
The Health Minister said that community partnerships and accountability of mechanisms are critical to strengthening health systems and also urged nations to align resources to those with the "greatest need".
"We have learnt that we need to work together and carve out mechanisms of partnerships that will help us reach the SDGs. Participating countries should commit to a culture of evidence-based decision-making, strengthen accountability of national health systems and align resources to those with the greatest need," Nadda said on the concluding day of the summit.
Nadda also said that India will lead the efforts to demonstrate global progress in maternal and child health by working "closely" with global partners to make sure that the post 2015 development agenda will advance the cause of ending preventable child and maternal deaths.
SDGs are a proposed set of targets relating to future international development and they will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) once they expire at the end of 2015. They include a wide range of issues including health.
He said that although challenges among nations are common but ways of addressing them will come from investments in strengthening healthcare and orchestrating health reforms.
"Providing healthcare is not a mechanical function but an integral part of a universal and transformative sustainable development agenda," Nadda said while stressing that inclusion is the key to progress and provision of equitable services and universalising access are "pathways to change".
Noting that public-private-partnerships are emerging as "game-changers", he said that there is a need to take advantage of the support offered by the corporate sector and the industry to better health systems performance and delivery.
"Today geographical boundaries are being breached by technological innovations such as mobile telephony and information and communication technologies. So, we need to use technology for maximum good and to broaden the scope of healthcare," he said.
Recognising that health and well-being of women and children in shaping prosperous and sustainable societies is "central", as per the 'Delhi Declaration', the nations commited to "accelerate efforts to end preventable child and maternal deaths".
"We commit to making measurable improvements in
reproductive, maternal, new-born, child, and adolescent health through our respective country health plans and where needed, to develop focussed country investment frameworks," the declaration said.
The summit which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday was co-hosted by the Indian Health Ministry and Ethiopian Health Ministry in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tata Trusts, UNICEF, USAID and WHO.
"We commit ourselves to developing a culture of evidence-based decision-making, strengthening accountability and aligning our resources to those with the greatest need.
"We will hold ourselves accountable to these commitments through regular monitoring of progress through this joint platform and to promote cross-learning, knowledge sharing and collaboration among the 22 nations to end preventable deaths of mothers, new-borns and children while safeguarding and promoting their health and well-being," the declaration said.
In the declaration, the nations noted this was a "pivotal time" as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are completing at 2015 end and nations were preparing to embrace a universal and transformative sustainable development agenda that leaves "no one behind and ensures the health and well-being of all particularly women, children and adolescents."
"We will work together to ensure women, newborn, children and adolescents - survive. We will end preventable maternal, newborn, and child mortality. We will reduce preventable deaths from both infectious and non-communicable diseases.
"We will strengthen health systems, including delivery of routine services and resilience to cope with unforeseen events," the declaration which was read out by Additional Health secretary C K Mishra here.
The signatory nations also decided to end all forms of malnutrition and prioritize universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services including family planning.
"We recognize the need to promote inclusive and diverse partnerships and multi-sectoral action and encourage adaptation and scale up of appropriate technologies, innovations and best practices as a means to facilitate more rapid, effective, and equitable services...,"the declaration said.
The nations also applauded the progress achieved in reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality while acknowledging the global partnerships, support and resources mobilized to achieve these gains and save over 100 million lives since 1990.
The nations also committed to create an environment that
fosters gender equality and the participation of all stakeholders including civil society, professional bodies, academia and the private sector.
Through the declaration, they also committed to ensure through appropriate laws, policies and entitlements, the realisation of the rights of every mother, new-born, child, and adolescent.
"We commit to advancing equitable access to services and prioritising the needs of those in marginalised, underserved, and poorer segments of the population.
"We will seek to strengthen cross-sectoral collaboration to promote universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene and education in order to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to reach full potential," the declaration said.
The nations also committed to mobilise the increased resources needed to accelerate progress and support the implementation of the Post 2015 development agenda.
Union Health secretary B P Sharma said that evidence-based decision making and community-level accountability are the cornerstones of a functional and impactful public health service delivery system.
The two-day summit was a confluence of health ministers from the 24 priority countries that committed to the 'global Call to Action for Child Survival' in June 2012, health ministers, international academic experts, corporate, civil society and media.
The summit was a prelude to the United Nations Summit for the adoption of post-2015 development agenda that will be held as a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly in September 2015.