What should the Department for International Development (DFID) be doing to improve maternal and child health and ensure that its new focus on malaria brings about real change for vulnerable populations?
These are the questions we tried to answer in our two submissions to DFID this week. This was a crucial moment to support the UK government in its focus on mothers and children (they are after all the second biggest donor to Maternal, Newborn and Child health -MNCH) and to make sure that the new government consolidated its efforts on malaria (DFID has announced an investment of £500 million pounds a year on malaria).
On mothers and children, we have recommended that DFID focuses on the most vulnerable, goes beyond newborns and includes children under five (at the moment DFID is only focusing on newborns, as is the majority of the donor community, meaning that the progress the world has made towards achieving MDG4 could be reversed if children continue to be forgotten). We have also called on DFID to continue to support health systems, and most of all ensure that the financial barriers to accessing healthcare are removed (see our brief on user fees).
On malaria, we have recommended that DFID supports the implementation of malaria prevention and treatment interventions in ways that strengthen the health system as a whole with benefits that extend beyond malaria. We have called for health workers to be given appropriate support, supervision, medicines, equipment and remuneration in order to enable them to provide quality accessible care to the populations they serve. We would like DFID to encourage community participation so that people can make informed decisions, hold providers to account and have meaningful input into the shaping of interventions.
Of course malaria services will be useless if people have to pay for them. We reiterated our enthusiasm for DFID’s continued commitment to removing financial barriers to healthcare.
Have a look and let us know what you think. What more can we say? What more should we or DFID do to make sure children and mothers survive and thrive and malaria stops being such a dramatic killer?