Strong health systems vital to achieving Nepal's health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Kathmandu, Nepal, August 18 , 2010 - The Government of Nepal received a significant boost to its efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality and illness after its leading aid donors signed a new unprecedented joint financing arrangement today.

Under the terms of the Joint Financing Arrangement (JFA), Nepal's leading aid donors― DFID, World Bank, GAVI, USAID, UNFPA and UNICEF ― will funnel their financial support to the country's new national health plan through one simplified aid management system that will sharply reduce the reporting that donors require from low-income countries such as Nepal. The JFA is one of the first steps to implementing the Health Systems Funding Platform* in Nepal.

The Platform is about applying the principles of aid effectiveness to make health dollars go farther and produce greater impact.

Julian Lob-Levyt, CEO, GAVI 

Donor collaboration

The Nepal JFA now brings together donors which are able to 'pool' their development funds in support of the Government's health programs (World Bank, DFID and GAVI) with those such as USAID, UNFPA and UNICEF that provide on-budget resources but do not pool their funds. The Australian Government has also already announced its commitment to continue supporting the government's health program.

By committing its health donors to this new simplified approach, the Government of Nepal hopes to further accelerate progress in improving access to essential maternal and child health services including immunization and HIV/AIDS. Nepal is one of the first countries to implement the Health Systems Funding Platform.

Rameshore Khanal, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, who signed on behalf of the Government said: "The signing of the Joint Financing Arrangement is an important step by an increasing number of development partners in their commitment to strengthen government systems.  It is our strong belief that the strengthening of our own systems is, even when it would take time, in the end the best value for aid money."

Susan Goldmark, World Bank Country Director for Nepal mentioned: "This is an important and satisfying moment in the harmonization process - I know how much work has gone into it.  At the same time we know that the harmonization agenda is far from completed.  In the countdown to the MDGs I'm excited to hear about the ongoing efforts in the health sector to harmonize the technical support agenda and to move ahead with the mutual accountability issues related to our pledges for financial and technical support as well as to our behavior".

More health for the money

"The Platform is about applying the principles of aid effectiveness to make health dollars go farther and produce greater impact," said Julian Lob-Levyt, CEO of the GAVI Alliance. "Collective financial management through the Platform will translate into more predictable funding that will enable countries to plan and implement with more confidence. I'm eager to see this approach replicated in many more countries," Dr Lob-Levyt added.

USAID Mission Director Dr. Kevin A. Rushing noted: "Including all funding - both pooled and direct - is a very positive move by the donors and the Government.  Uniting around a single, focused plan for investment is essential to improving the national health system effectively. We see this furthering government ownership and leadership and helping to build greater equity in health service utilization." 

Ian McFarlane, signing as UNFPA Representative and speaking as Chair of the External Development Partner group in the Health Sector in Nepal, urged government to "sustain its progress towards making the health-related MDGs meaningful for the most marginalized, and called on other EDPs to join the efforts to align with and support national systems".

*The Platform

The Health System Funding Platform (the Platform) will facilitate collaboration among development partners to improve how they work together in countries. It will also enable countries to use new and existing funds more effectively for health systems development, and help them access donor funds in a less complicated manner that is more aligned to their own national processes.

Established in 2009, at the recommendation of the High Level Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems, the Platform is being developed initially by the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund and the World Bank, facilitated by the World Health Organization, in consultations with countries and other key stakeholders, including civil society. The Platform is part of the broad international effort in strengthening health systems to accelerate progress towards the targets for the health related Millennium Development Goals.

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