Ivan Lewis gave a resounding endorsement of the International Health Partnership in his speech to health, human development and AIDS advisers in Brighton last week. I am always amazed at the long hours Ministers, and their staff, often have to put in to meet their various commitments. Traffic delayed the arrival of the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in Brighton, and we were all just about to tuck in to our puddings when he arrived!
It was dark and raining outside, but spirits at the dinner were good, after a rich day of discussion and debate. Ivan Lewis, in his speech, mentioned his recent trip to the inter-ministerial meeting on the International Health Partnership, held in Geneva in February. He acknowledged the complexity of working in the health sector, with large numbers of agencies and initiatives being a particular difficulty. A number of Health Minister's at the Geneva had highlighted the challenges they face in trying to get agencies to support national priorities and plans. They were clear that there is a real need to increase alignment of funding behind national plans at the country level. Ivan Lewis' comment that the IHP is not an initiative, but is common sense, effectively conveyed his belief that the principles set out in the International Health Partnership are the right way forward.
Ivan Lewis' speech went on to highlight the importance of maintaining focus on the MDGs in this time of economic crisis and to discuss the importance of social protection mechanisms to mitigate the worst effects of the economic crisis on the lives of the poorest.
After four days of intensive discussions and debate, my batteries are charged for the return flight to Mozambique, armed with insights provided by my colleagues working in other countries which I hope will help enrich the policy dialogue in Mozambique. In Mozambique we are in the midst of preparations for one of the twice yearly policy discussion with the Minister of Health, which will be an opportunity to consider how health in Mozambique might weather the effects of the global economic crisis. I will keep you posted as preparations for that meeting are underway.