How well do development partners work together and follow country priorities to achieve the health SDGs?

January 20, 2023 - 5 Minutes Read - By The Vellum Team

Views from national governments and relevant authorities

52 national governments and relevant authorities provided their views on how well multilateral agencies and other development partners align to their national priorities and plans and collaborate with each other to increase efficiencies and avoid duplications when providing support for an equitable and resilient recovery towards the health-related SDGs. Progress is lagging to achieve the health-related SDG targets. The world was off track before COVID-19 and many indicators are further off track now. Hence, a call for stronger collaboration and alignment with country priorities is more urgent than ever.

“This report, while encouraging, shows we all have more work to do to ensure we work together more closely to support countries to achieve the priorities they set, rather than those others set for them,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General and Chair of the Group of SDG3 GAP Principals. “We must listen to what countries are telling us and act on it.”

The data was gathered as part of the monitoring process of the SDG3 Global Action Plan (SDG3 GAP) and preliminary results were included in the 2022 Progress report. The WHO-hosted Secretariat of the SDG3 GAP rolled out the short questionnaire to 75, mostly low and lower middle-income countries and territories, during the first half of 2022.  52 countries (69%) replied, and the response rate was even higher for lower-middle-income countries (75%) and low-income countries (86%).

Although national governments and relevant authorities provide an overall positive assessment of collaboration among multilateral partners – as visualized in the heatmap below – several concrete suggestions for improving how development partners align with national priorities and coordinate among themselves were put forward both in the quantitative survey and as open-ended responses.

Concrete suggestions to improve the way development partners support countries center around more alignment with national priorities, more flexibility and transparency, streamlined and simplified disbursement procedures to pooled funding.

Other suggestions include the promotion of participatory planning and evaluation activities, strengthening institutional capacity of the federal and state government entities, strengthening national coordination fora by all development partners participating in them, reviving the health sector working groups, putting in place a national health system coordination mechanism and equivalent mechanisms at provincial level and strengthening the role of Ministry of Health in overall coordination and learning from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic, and the overlapping food, security and climate crises have caused progress against the health-related SDGs to fall further far short of the pace needed to achieve these goals. Acceleration is essential and one way it can be achieved is through stronger collaboration among multilateral agencies, based on country-led solutions and through careful consideration of national needs and suggestions for improvement, which this data helps to identify and measure.

This data and tool was presented as a solution to strengthen country voice and leadership at the 2022 Effective Development Cooperation Summit (12th – 14th December 2022) in Geneva.

The data collected through the questionnaire provides an important accountability mechanism and can serve as a quality improvement tool for the way agencies provide support to countries. The key recommendations are for the use of country teams of all GAP agencies to help improve collaboration in their countries. Read the full report here.

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