Improving effectiveness of aid high on ministers’ agenda

News release

Madang, Papua New Guinea, 6 July 2009 — The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) will report to the Pacific Islands countries’ health ministers meeting at Madang this week on how they are working together to help make development assistance for health more effective.

WHO and SPC are helping countries align development assistance with their health priorities in keeping with international agreements on aid signed in Paris in 2005 and in Accra and Kavieng in 2008. These call on all parties involved in aid to work toward greater alignment of efforts, collaboration and assessment.

In the Pacific WHO and SPC are working together through the ‘2-1-22’ (two organisations, one team, 22 countries) approach. They will seek support from the ministers for further strengthening of their collaboration.

In addition to WHO and SPC — which respectively have global and regional mandates ­ — technical partners and donors in health include other UN bodies, academic researchers, government aid agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

‘Our job at WHO is to assist governments and partners to make planning, monitoring and accountability systems and processes more robust,’ said Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific. ‘The aid effectiveness agenda within a country is primarily the responsibility of the government, but WHO is there to help strengthen the capacity of the government to lead and manage the process.’

Ministers will be asked to consider the ‘Framework of Priorities for Health in the Pacific’. This encourages strengthening of countries’ broader health system, informs donors through evidence-based assessments, and stimulates inter-sectoral collaboration to address the social determinants of health.

The framework identifies two key messages emerging from SPC-backed pilot studies in three countries — Nauru, Palau and Solomon Islands. The messages are that countries must drive the process of determining their needs, and that wider social and economic impacts on health must be considered.

The studies validate the prevalence of known priority health problems including non-communicable diseases and obesity in Nauru and Palau, malaria and childhood morbidity from other infectious diseases in Solomon Islands and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in all three countries.

Mr William (Bill) Parr, Director of SPC’s Social Resources Division, said it was clear from the pilot studies that many significant but previously undocumented health issues identified in each country were not being adequately addressed. Many have clear links to social determinants.

‘Clearly, in all three countries, other sectors such as water supply, sanitation, agriculture, nutrition, education, sport and recreation have an important bearing on the health of the community,’ he said.

He continued, ‘countries must be in the driving seat in defining their priorities based on evidence and advocate for their needs with donors and development assistance partners.’

For more information, please contact: Mr Guogao Wu, WHO External Relations Office, at +63 2 528 9930, email: Ms Lara Studzinski, Acting Coordinator, Health Management Team, Public Health Division, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, in Madang until 9 July, ph: +675 852 2655; email: