THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR SAVE THE CHILDREN AND WHITE RIBBON ALLIANCE TO WORK TOGETHER IN ENDING PREVENTABLE MATERNAL, NEWBORN AND CHILD DEATHS.
By Senfuka Samuel
Save the Children and White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA) converged in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 23rd-27th April 2012 for a Global Skillshare on accelerating efforts towards reduction of maternal, newborn and child deaths. The skillshare focused specially on experiences of campaigning and advocating for saving the lives of mothers, newborns and children. Participants’ vast experiences showed that their proven strategies and interventions can be scaled up to drive down significantly the reduction of the number of women, newborns and children dying from causes that are preventable or treatable.
Every year an estimated 358,000 mothers die due to pregnancy related complication and 8 million children die of preventable causes (WHO 2008). Save the Children and WRA believe that with committed leadership, increased human and financial resources for health, increased public and community awareness and responsibility, this sad trend of maternal, newborn and child deaths can be reversed and ended. The fact that both organizations work to ensure that no child is born to die and pregnancy and childbirth is safe for all women, makes the bond stronger.
With participants from across the world, the global skillshare presented inspiring experiences about campaigning and advocacy. Important lessons were learnt from Save the Children led “EVERYONE” campaign, and impressive lessons from WRA’s Accountability and Mobilization experiences. From a personal point of view, I was inspired by Save the Children in Sierra Leone’s experiences on Health Sector Budget Tracking as well as WRA India’s work on Social Accountability of maternal health.
I learnt that budget tracking is a step by step process with clear objectives of what you want to achieve with the budget. It’s critical to mobilize partners including government to work together, undertake budget analysis and ascertain information for budget advocacy and above all it’s important to monitor budget utilization. On the other hand, India takes accountability to the grassroots through people centred advocacy, by mobilizing community members and civil society to hold governments, policy makers and implementers accountable to their commitments. This approach empowers the ordinary citizens and citizen groups to participate directly in demanding for improved access to maternal and child health services. Such social accountability tools used in India include public hearings, checklists, verbal autopsy and community scorecards.
Other interesting experiences shared included working with health workers and parliamentarians as champions, media, technology for health, and communicating impact. I left the skillshare more energized and inspired to move forward with the cause of maternal, newborn and child deaths.
At the end of the skillshare it was demonstrated that both organizations have unique strengths making a case for collaboration and partnership critical if we are to achieve our ultimate collective goal. Working together means more synergies, more women, newborns and children are saved and living a better quality of life. The time is now!