ICFP Closing Event: Good Governance and Accountability Needed in Post-MDG Agenda

With only two years left until the deadline to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the global development community is looking to the future. “The new post-2015 development agenda should build on the MDGs, but include new challenges facing people on the planet,” saidElizabeth Lule, Director of Family Planning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a panelist on the International Conference of Family Planning’s closing event. This new process, Lule said, must be inclusive and open.

As the panelist gave their input on what should be included in the post-2015 development agenda, one two topics stood out: governance and accountability.  What is commonly needed in most countries is, “The role of governance, transparency, and accountability to make the [donor] money work for those who need it,” Lule said.

“Accountability for results [in the post-2015 development agenda] is a moral imperative,” stated panelist Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director of the National Rural Health Mission in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India. Gupta shared a story showing the results of India’s provision of free transportation of pregnant women to and from health centers. The result of more women giving birth in health centers was increased access and utilization of post-partum family planning.

The two additional panelists, Professor Dr. Fasli Jalal, Chairperson of the National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) in Indonesia, and Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, Regional Director of Partners in Population and Development’s Africa Regional Office (PPD ARO), shared what they have found to be vital success that they have witnessed.

“Good governances at all levels, national to local is needed in order to achieve and maintain MDGs,” Dr. Jalal said as he expressed Indonesia’s intent to continue to make progress in family planning after the MDGs end.

When creating a post-2015 development agenda, there need to be indicators to help governments accountable, Dr. Musinguzi told the attendees. While many governments made multiple reproductive health commitments in the past, such as the ICPD and Maputo Plan of Action, many were not held accountable to them. Going forward, Dr. Musinguzi said, we “Need to hold governments and leaders accountable for the many reproductive health commitments that have been made.” With accountability and governance, universal access to family planning can become a reality.

Everyone at ICFP is in the Business of Leading Change

Guiding change is often referred to as the ultimate test of a leader. Through the Guide to Fostering Change to Scale Up Effective Health Services, LMG and its partners in the IBP Consortium are putting systematic approaches to effective change and scale up into the hands of FP/RH leaders, enabling leaders themselves to build a strong foundation for meeting the global demands for greater investment and better family planning and reproductive health outcomes for women, girls, and families.

Joseph Dwyer and Kate WIlson speaking at ICFP 2013

Leaders at all levels are working to improve family planning and reproductive health, including donors, researchers, technical experts, service providers and advocates at the global, national, district, community and family level. All this is in the name of fostering, leading, or implementing change. Successful change is not an end in itself. Rather, it is a means of increasing individuals’ awareness of their Family Planning and Reproductive Health (FP/RH) rights, improving the availability and quality of services and expanding utilization. In the words of Melinda Gates, during her Wednesday plenary presentation here at ICFP, “giving women and girls hope, dignity, and the opportunity for a better future for themselves and their families”  is ultimately all our goal. However, leaders involved in this work often lack a systematic process to link their current situation with the scale they wish to achieve.

Whether you are the minister of health trying to expand effective pilot programs across the national health system; a student trying to improve access to youth-friendly family planning services; a leader of a disabled people’s organization trying to educate health providers about the reproductive health rights of women with disabilities; or a community health worker trying to increase access to new contraceptive methods in a rural village, you face common challenges in changing behaviors and changing systems.

Among others, such common challenges include:

  • Cultivating ownership among those who will have to change
  • Engaging stakeholders in thinking about scale up from the beginning
  • Securing necessary financial resources
  • Simplifying implementation packages to lend themselves to realistic expansion and sustainability
  • Maintaining commitment over time, despite drawbacks and frustrations
  • Measuring progress and results of change efforts and the scaling up process

The reality is that the majority of change initiatives fail. Decades of investment in FP/RH have left the field with a graveyard of pilot programs that have rarely been successfully brought to scale. Often, these change initiatives are not approached systematically, do not account for principles for effective change, do not plan for scale up, and are not well evaluated.

To meet these gaps between knowledge and practice, LMG and its partners in the IBP Fostering Change to Scale Up Task Team, have developed the IBP Guide to Fostering Change to Scale Up Effective Health Services. The guide brings together research, experience, and tools to outline a step by step pathway from identifying the need for change, to scale up and evaluation of evidence-based practices. This equips leaders and their teams with systematic methods, proven tools, and measurable indicators to follow through on their scale up efforts. It supports an environment that promotes change, cultivates ownership among stakeholders, and achieves desired FP/RH results with a documented process to be shared with others in the field. To use the guide first-hand, click here.

Table Fostering ChangeEffective change and scale up are not easy, but they are the need of the hour if we are going to achieve pressing global priorities, such as reaching MDG 5 in the 700 days remaining before the 2015 deadline and following through on the commitments of FP2020. There has been a call for continuous leadership throughout the ICFP sessions, and I would add continuous leadership of change that will be absolutely essential to meet our collective goal of ensuring women in developing countries have the same access to lifesaving contraceptives and services as those in the developed world.

Women Have Been Leaders for Generations in Africa

Melinda Gates speaks at ICFP 2013

The sentiment that women in leadership roles at every level need to be engaged was echoed by the panelists at Wednesday’s plenary, “Achieving Equity through Women in Leadership” at the International Conference on Family Planning.

Opening the session, Melinda Gates, co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, lauded the success reached by the Ethiopian government through its Health Extension Workers (HEWs) program.  Through the efforts of the HEWs, most of whom are women, the country has reached several of its MDG goals two years ahead of schedule and Gates reiterated how leadership on a large scale comes from the contributions of many individual women who are leading daily and on the ground in their countries.

H.E. Roman Tesfaye, First Lady of Ethiopia, expanded on Ethiopia’s experience and highlighted that under their constitution, family planning is considered one of the basic rights.  Beyond family planning, she also drew our attention to women’s economic empowerment and its importance in ensuring women have full access to family planning and other health services.

The plenary’s moderator, Professor Marleen Temmerman, Director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research and of HRP at WHO, remarked that to her being a leader means being in a position to empower other women to realize their rights and become leaders themselves. The ability to galvanize on important issues such as family planning and contraceptive access is also an important leadership skill according to Temmerman.

Although very happy to hear many attendees of this year’s conference talking about ensuring that family planning doesn’t exist in a silo, Theo Sowa, CEO of the African Women Development Fund, noted that we also need to make sure we move beyond rhetoric – “When we don’t move beyond the rhetoric, we get marginalization.”  She also reminded us that although it’s great to have a focus on women’s leadership in the panel and elsewhere throughout the conference, women’s leadership is not a recent development. “Women have been leaders for generations in Africa, let’s not pretend that’s not true, and let’s learn how to use that leadership,” Sowa said.

Leadership and Governance in the Spotlight at AWLN High Level Panel

On Thursday (11/14)  night, leaders from all over Africa gathered at the International Conference on Family Planning for the African Women’s Leadership Network (AWLN) High Level Panel, held in partnership with IPPF. The event, opened by Theo Sowa, CEO of the African Women Development Fund, featured a panel discussion on family planning access and maternal mortality reduction.

“Strong management and good governance are necessary  to improve access to family planning,” panelist Dr. Michael T. Mbizvo,  Former Director Department of Reproductive Health and Research (RHR) at the World Health Organization said. The panel echoed Mbizvo’s emphasis on management and governance, and added that women’s leadership should be elevated to improve health outcomes, setting the stage to introduce LMG’s new publication, An Open Mind and a Hard Back: Conversations of African Women Leaders. The well-received publication featured interviews with many AWLN members that are Members of Parliament(MP) in their home countries and have displayed strong leadership for reproductive health.

The AWLN High Level Panel in pictures:

Kweku Brenu (middle), Regional Chair, IPPF Africa Region gives opening remarks with Lucien Kouakou (lef), Regional Director, IPPF Africa Region, and Ngarmbatina Odjimbeye Soukate (right), representative of HE Debyltno, First Lady of the Republic of Chad. 

HE Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi (left), First Lady of Nigeria’s Ekiti State, speaks on the High Level Panel beside Hon. Marie-Rose Nguini (middle), MP in Cameroon, and Dr. Michael Mbizvo (right).

Tewodros Melesse, Director General of IPPF, gives closing remarks.

Elly Mugumya, Director of the LMG/IPPF Partnership, introduces LMG publication, An Open Mind and a Hard Back: Conversations with African Women Leaders.

Hon. Ruth Kavuma (left), former MP in Uganda and founding Chairperson of Mama Alive, holds An Open Mind and a Hard Back with Hon. Sylvia Ssinabulya, (middle), MP in Uganda, and Sarah Lindsay (right), technical officer for LMG. Both Hon. Kavuma and Hon. Ssinabulya are featured in the publication.

An Open Mind and a Hard Back: Conversations with African Women Leaders is available on the LMG website. 

In Pictures: Youth Leadership Workshop for Family Planning

This post also appears on the LMGforHealth Blog

Youth leaders have been in the spotlight at the International Conference on Family Planning with multiple sessions and a plenary dedicated to youth leadership. On Wednesday, over 25 of these young people gathered for the Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project’s Youth Leadership Workshop on Family Planning. The participants, from all regions of Africa and Asia, actively engaged in leadership exercises led by Seble Daniel (MSH – LMG/Ethiopia), Sarah Lindsay (MSH – LMG), and Catherine Chiboola Kabuddula (IPPF Youth Leader/Zambia).

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Setting the stage at the ICFP opening ceremony

This post also appears in the LMGforHealth Blog

It is no coincidence that the International Conference on Family Planning is in Ethiopia, a country that has increased the usage of modern methods of contraceptive from 14% in 2005 to 27% in 2011.  “We are having [the conference] in Ethiopia to celebrate the success of Ethiopia,” said Oying Rimon, Deputy Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The success of Ethiopia has been credited to the government leading the process and the community owning it. This is vital, Chris Elias President of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, “Political leaders are stepping up to improve family planning services. This is what we need, this is what we see in Ethiopia.”

More eveidence on Ethiopia not slowing down,  “I am confident that our goal for expanding family planning to our citizens will be realized,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stated, opening the conference for over 3,000 government officials, international agencies and civil societies to share best practices to improve family planning services around the world.

Opening Ceremony Themes:

Country Ownership:

“Country ownership is the surest way to ensure country’s chart their own courses and overcome their own challenges for development. Ownership reinforces commitment. The principles and actions for country ownership are neither new or hard to understand. What is missing is donor commitment to country ownership. We urge all development partners to move forward to make country ownership a priority so achieving the MDG goals will become a reality, too.”  – Dr. Kesete-birhan Admasu, Minister of Health, Ethiopia

Human Rights:

“We have to link women’s rights to women’s realities.” – Dr. Kesete-birhan Admasu, Minister of Health, Ethiopia

“I want mothers to be saved, their lives need to be protected. What is better than saving a mother?” – Ethiopian Heath Extension Worker

“Family planning is a right, and a woman’s right is a human right.” – Dr. Nkosanzana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission


“This conference is historic because this is the largest contingent of young people ever at a family planning conference. And at about 1.8 billion, today’s youth is the largest generation ever to transition to adulthood.” – Dr. Catherine Bonga Baye, Youth Delegate, Cameroon

“UNFPA must create a youth goal around youth education, their health, their sexuality, their access to contraception, their rights, and their abilities to get jobs.” – Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund

“We always say the youth is the future. But the youth inherit our earth. You might as well start shaping the future now. Get involved now.” – Dr. Nkosanzana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

Follow @MSHHealthImpact and @LMGforHealth for live tweets from the ICFP

3rd International Family Planning Conference Opens in Ethiopia: High-Level Commitments from Four Nations and the African Union

Full Access, Full Choice. (Photo by Barb Ayotte/MSH.)

Full Access, Full Choice. (Photo by Barb Ayotte/MSH.)

The 3rd International Family Planning Conference (ICFP) opened today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with 3,000 in attendance from over 120 countries celebrating the theme of “Full Access/Full Choice”. Musicians and dancers opened up the meeting, held at the African Union building under high security. All the guests held up signs saying “We are family planning” after hearing the inspiring story of how family planning has saved many couples’ lives.

The historic gathering is the largest of the past two conferences held in Kampala, Uganda and Dakar, Senegal, with an impressive youth contingent of over 350 delegates.

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A stellar list of heads of states were in attendance or making statement via video about their nation’s commitments to family planning. Countries included Ethiopia, whose Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalyn delivered the keynote speech, pledging to get another 11 million women on family planning services. Ethiopia has been a success story when it comes to family planning services , largely due to its 38,000 strong development “army”—the Health Extension Worker program, which provides services in (kebelles) villages across Ethiopia.

The Prime Ministers of Malawi (Joyce Banda) and Thailand (Yingluck Shinawatra) spoke about their countries’ successes in family planning and continuing commitment. US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated US commitment to universal access to family planning and reproductive health services by 2015 and urged for continued investment in UNFPA, the UN’s population fund. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, gave a passionate speech and congratulated Ethiopia for its recent milestone of achieving its commitments on child survival under Millennium Goal 4 and commented on Laos’ and Haiti’s dramatic increases in contraceptive prevalence rates. “Africa is growing fast. We can’t grow without investing in education, skills development for youth so they can be who they want to be and exercise their rights. Let us stop teenage pregnancies and teenage marriages- we can do it.” Dr. Osotimehin also cited three opportunities for the post-2015 development framework, including a youth goal, a gender goal, and universal health coverage with family planning included. It was interesting to note that the youth and gender goals got applause from the audience, but the UHC goal did not.

Dr. Zuma, AU Commissioner, said how important it is that the conference is taking place in the AU building. “Without family planning, Africa can’t reach its full potential. Family planning is critical.”


A surprising gap in the entire opening ceremony was a lack of acknowledgement of the devastating typhoon in the Philippines. The Philippines has been a leader on family planning and reproductive health, with landmark laws passed earlier this year. Their presence in this gathering will be missed.

Please join MSH tomorrow night at a special event with IPPF at the Sheraton Addis hotel on “What Will Universal Health Coverage Mean for Family Planning?” from 7-9 pm.


ICFP Pre-Conference: Sharing best practices, launching a publication, and meeting inspiring youth leaders

This post also appears in the LMGforHealth Blog

The 2013 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) may not begin until Tuesday, but the Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project has already attended numerous events around Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Photo credit: Eva Ros, LMG Project/MSH

On Monday morning, LMG consortium partner, International Planned Parenthood Federation, presented Africa Region’s Annual Learning and Sharing Platform. The meeting brought together reproductive health practitioners from its forty-two member networks in Africa to exchange ideas and best practices. This year, the meeting also included IPPF’s other five region, Arab World, Europe, South Asia, East and South East Asia, and Western Hemisphere, to share their stories. Within the different regions a common challenge stood out: their ability to reach younger people with reproductive health services and training.

“We must mobilize out of school adolescents and strengthen our youth friendly services,” Anjali Sen, regional director of IPPF South Asia shared. The other regions agreed, deeming it vital to reach IPPF Director General (DG) Tewodros Melesse’s goal of tripling services provided by 2020.

Following the regional sharing, LMG/IPPF Partnership Director Elly Mugumya launched the newest LMG publication An Open Mind and a Hard Back: Conversations with African Women LeadersMugumya said the importance of the publication would be, “To accelerate the process of bringing about gender equality and good governance in the health sector, it is important to understand the leadership role women play.” Mugumya and IPPF Africa Performance & Knowledge Manager Paulin Tra presented the first copy of the publication to IPPF DG Melesse.

At the end of the day, LMG was able to visit with IPPF youth delegates, as well as the ICFP youth speakers chosen to attend the conference at their respective pre-conference workshops. These youth leaders are being prepared with crash courses on public speaking, social media, advocacy, and other skills to maximize their impact during and after the conference. Follow LMG and youth leaders, and LMG youth leadership activities on Twitter with: #ICFPYouth and #YouthLead.

Photo: IPPF Africa Regional Performance & Knowledge Manager Paulin Tra unwraps new LMG publication “An Open Mind and a Hard Back: Conversations with African Women Leaders

Be sure to catch these great events with the Leadership, Management & Governance Project!

The LMG Project will host a number of exciting events at the 2013 International Family Planning Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 12-15, 2013. The conference, hosted by The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, will bring together over 3,000 participants from NGOs, Governments, and health decision-makers from around the world.

Stop by the MSH booth (57) to celebrate the launch of LMG’s newest publication, An Open Mind and a Hard Back: Conversations with African Women Leaders. We also invite you to join us at the following events highlighted the important role of women and youth leaders in achieving family planning results:

Youth Leadership Workshop for Family Planning
4:30 -6:00pm, Wednesday, November 14, 2013
Location: African Union Conference Center, Mezzanine level, Caucus Room 1

Description: Leadership is demonstrated at all levels—local to international—and at all ages to inspire action around important issues. Community mobilization is key to action for increased access to family planning. Youth leaders are vital to sparking action in their communities around family planning. This workshop will look at important leadership skills for youth leaders to inspire action around: increasing the role of boys and men in FP; increasing access to FP for adolescent girls; increasing condom usage; and promoting the value of prenatal care.

IBP Session 5: Fostering Change: Valuable Resources Now Available
10:30 – 11:50am, Thursday, November 14, 2013
Location: African Union Conference Center, 3rd Level Caucus Room 26

Description: The recently launched updated version of the Guide to Fostering Change to Scale Up Effective Health Services links effective change practices with proven clinical and programmatic practices to achieve health results. The guide describes principles fundamental to effective change, including: increasing users’ awareness of proven approaches; providing “how-to” steps for successful change including scale-up; describing key challenges of scaling up; and recommending strategies and tools  for meeting those challenges.  By the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) understand the methodology of the Fostering Change; 2) know how to get started using FC guide for scale-up  3) identify potential areas for improvement in their programs using this methodology and 4) increase their awareness of the valuable resources now available for successful scale-up and improving health services.

Topical Roundtable: Smart Governance Yields Smart and Sustainable Gains in Family Planning

1:30 – 2:30pm, Thursday, November 14, 2013
Location: African Union Conference Center, Table 32

Description: The roundtable will commence a conversation on how smart governance is having an impact on family planning through: 1) decentralized governance in ministries of health; 2) expanding leadership from gender directorates within ministries of health that bridge public and private partnerships; and 3) advances in FP/RH mixed methods. Good governance is creating the conditions in which men and women leaders and managers can be more effective in developing and operating FP/RH programs and projects that achieve more significant and sustainable results.

Contact Sarah Lindsay (slindsay@msh.org) for more details.

Join MSH in Addis Ababa

Please join Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and our partners during these featured events at the 3rd International Conference on Family Planning, including a “Youth Leadership for Family Planning Workshop,” roundtables on leadership and smart governance, and Implementing Best Practices workshops and sessions.

Follow live updates on this blog and on Twitter with #ICFP2013, #familyplanning, #ICFPYouth, and #WomenLead.

Visit us in the exhibition hall!