International conference on health in developing countries

Representatives of almost 20 countries will be gathering in Oslo on 6 November to take part in the first replenishment event of the Global Financing Facility (GFF).

The aim is to mobilise funding to increase investment in maternal and child health in developing countries.

‘Every year, more than five million mothers and children around the world die from preventable causes. To do something about this situation, we must put health, education and women’s equality at the heart of international development work,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Every day, 33 000 girls under the age of 18 are married off. Many of them will be pregnant with the first of several children soon afterwards. Becoming pregnant too young and before they want children themselves restricts their prospects for the future. Children who give birth to babies are less able to feed them and look after themselves and their children. There are currently 214 million women in developing countries who do not wish to become pregnant but do not have access to modern contraceptives.

It was against this background that Norway together with Canada, the UN and the World Bank launched the GFF in 2015. The aim was to help the 50 countries where the needs are greatest to change the way they invest in and fund their national health services for women, children and adolescents. Since 2015, Denmark, Japan, the UK, the pharmaceutical company MSD for Mothers and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have become contributors to the GFF.

The replenishment event is being hosted by Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Minister of International Development Nikolai Astrup. It has been jointly organised by Norway, Burkina Faso, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.   

The GFF’s goal is to mobilise two billion US dollars in the period 2018-2023, which may catalyse a further USD 50 to 75 billion in investments in maternal and child health in poor countries. The GFF estimates that GFF countries, in cooperation with several partners including Gavi and the Global Fund, will be able to save 35 million lives by 2030.   

‘Investing in people and their health, nutrition and education is one of the smartest moves we can make to achieve sustainable development. Investments in health through the GFF model are not just about aid. The recipient countries must also make investments. The GFF countries use development aid to catalyse national and private-sector investments. This creates a sense of ownership in the health sector in individual countries,’ said Mr Astrup.  

In conjunction with the replenishment event, a health financing conference is being held on Monday 5 November. This will focus on how poor countries themselves can increase their health budgets so that they can fund basic health services for women, children and adolescents.

You can read more about the replenishment event on the GFF’s website.