Reproductive Health

Although funding for global health is at record levels, the achievement of the health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 remains severely challenged in the poorest countries of the world.  Seven of the eight MDGs are directly or indirectly related to reproductive health, yet we have not seen significant progress in this area in the last decade. At the September 2005 World Summit, global leaders at the highest level endorsed the goal of universal access to reproductive health.  Although some achievements have been realized, much more has yet to be done.  The need for expanded reproductive health options and access for the poorest populations, and a renewed commitment to reproductive rights, is more urgent than ever.

MLI recognizes that by investing in women’s health, significant gains can be made across all of the MDGs and, thus, it is one of the best investments that can be made. Therefore, with support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, MLI has integrated a Reproductive Health component into the broader MLI program.  Central to improving health outcomes at the country level is addressing the health of women, particularly their reproductive health needs.

MLI has focused on applying its leadership development approach to elevate reproductive health broadly and family planning specifically within MLI supported ministries. By linking MLI’s health financing and aid effectiveness policy reform efforts to improve reproductive health outcomes, MLI has been significant in achieving progress in ministries of health and in sharing their experience and the emerging MLI model globally. 

At the 2010 MDG Summit in New York, the United Nations launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which calls for the support of all stakeholders in order to enhance financing, strengthen policy, and improve service delivery for the most vulnerable women and children. MLI has been and continues to do just this – forge mutually supportive relationships with ministries of health to implement country-led health plans, develop innovative health financing schemes, build stronger and more sustainable health systems, and promote coordination, collaboration and south to south learning among ministries both within and across countries in order to improve health outcomes among the most marginalized and poor populations.

The MLI RH Countries

Because of the Packard Foundation’s long-standing focus on sub-Saharan Africa, MLI issued a request for letters of interest to the four MLI African countries. Based on submissions of interest received, MLI determined that the three RH-focus countries would be Senegal, Sierra Leone and Mali.  In all three MLI RH countries, progress toward MDG 5 (improving maternal health) has been slow and it is unlikely that targets will be reached by 2015. These countries have health indicators that are among the lowest in the world and when compounded with largely inadequate infrastructure, extreme poverty and high turnover in ministerial leadership, the process of implementing reform proves challenging. However, one thing all of these countries have in common is their commitment to improving health outcomes by making the health of women a priority.

MLI has developed technical assistance plans for each of the three RH focus countries - Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.  The technical support in each country varies, although all three countries include a focus on advancing RH policy reform to improve access to reproductive health services and, ultimately, improve RH indicators. In keeping with MLI's approach to leadership enhancement, MLI has worked with each country to define specific technical assistance plans and develop learning tools to increase core competencies needed to move RH policy forward and create a supportive peer learning network.

In order to strengthen the reproductive health work of MLI, we have established the MLI Reproductive Health Task Force, composed of a select group of 10 current and former high-level government officials, representatives from donor organizations, multi-lateral institutions and non-governmental organizations who serve in an advisory capacity to the Reproductive Health component of MLI.  This group provides overall guidance, support, and outreach to political leaders, and helps bring visibility to the initiative in relevant forums from the national to global levels. See who is on the Task Force.

  • MLI Voices

    Jun 22 2009 - 4:25pm

    Sierra Leone

    Even though I have worked in Sierra Leone in the past, the role of MLI Country Lead has given me the opportunity to build upon these previous experiences and to work closely with members of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), to support the implementation of health policies and reforms that they have prioritized.


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