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Bridging the RMNCAH gap: Delivering UHC for mothers in the era of COVID-19

When:   -
Timezone: UTC+02:00


The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of many health systems around the globe as many countries have been forced to divert already scarce resources – including midwives and other skilled birth attendants – away from basic services delivery towards the COVID response. This has exacerbated already existing gaps in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH) across many low- and middle-income countries. In addition, many expectant mothers may skip a prenatal visit or choose to deliver at home – where complications can quickly become dangerous – for fear of infection in a hospital or clinic.

To coincide with the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly, Devex and MSD for Mothers will host a high-level virtual discussion to highlight the crucial link between Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and maternal health, as well as the urgent need to safeguard the health of mothers and newborns in the COVID-19 era.

A panel of subject matter experts and UHC champions will also dive deeper into the role of the private sector in advancing UHC from an RMNCAH perspective. Marking the one-year anniversary of the U.N. High-Level Meeting on UHC, the event will take stock of the commitments made by the private sector and what we can learn from efforts so far. By analyzing already existing commitments and investments, the conversation will explore how these commitments are being integrated into donors’ strategic thinking around UHC implementation, and efforts around RMNCAH more specifically.

What health system gaps in RMNCAH have been exposed by COVID-19? And how can the private sector help bridge this gap?

The event will build on the virtual roundtable “Maternity Matters: Supporting private health providers to strengthen health systems” in order to advance conversations with key donors to help shed a light on already existing efforts, results, and challenges.



Raj Kumar - President & Editor-in-Chief, Devex - Raj Kumar is the Founding President and Editor-in-Chief at Devex, the media platform for the global development community. He is a media leader and former humanitarian council chair for the World Economic Forum and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His work has led him to more than 50 countries, where he has had the honor to meet many of the aid workers and development professionals who make up the Devex community. He is the author of the book "The Business of Changing the World," a go-to primer on the ideas, people, and technology disrupting the aid industry.



David Clarke - Team Leader, UHC and Health Systems Law, WHO - David is a senior public health lawyer and a health policy and governance specialist. David currently works at WHO HQ in Geneva as a lead technical specialist on health law and governance. Before joining WHO he worked as a senior official in the New Zealand Ministry of Health, and as an advisor to global health and international development agencies and an advisor to Ministries of Health in over fifty different countries across four continents. At WHO HQ, David is the global lead for the institutions and law theme at WHO HQ. In this capacity, he leads on private sector engagement for UHC, anticorruption accountability and transparency in health, UHC law and working with parliamentarians to achieve UHC. David’s day to day work involves research and the development of advice and guidance for WHO member states and providing technical assistance to WHO member states in collaboration with colleagues from WHO Regional offices and Country offices. He also is the WHO representative on the Steering Group of the Alliance for Anti-Corruption in health, technical lead and focal point for the WHO Advisory Group on the Private Sector and UHC and represents WHO on HANSHEP (Harnesing non state actors for better health for the poor). David is heavily involved in the COVID 19 response. He is currently working on anti-corruption and public health emergencies, how countries are reforming their laws to strengthen their COVID 19 response and mobilising the private sector for the COVID 19 response.

Mary-Ann Etiebet - Lead & Executive Director, MSD for Mothers - Dr. Etiebet has two decades of experience improving healthcare outcomes for vulnerable populations and transforming healthcare delivery at the frontlines. As the Lead and Executive Director, Dr. Etiebet is responsible for successfully implementing a robust set of innovative maternal health programs and high-impact partnerships that integrate the private sector’s invention and expertise to design, deploy and scale solutions that empower women, equip health providers and strengthen health systems.

Dr. Githinji Gitahi - Group CEO, Amref Health Africa and Co-chair, UHC2030 Steering Committee - Since 2015, Dr. Gitahi has been the Global CEO of Amref Health Africa (Amref). But long before Dr. Gitahi led the largest Africa-based healthcare nonprofit, he grew up on his mother’s coffee farm in Nyeri, a central province in Kenya. At 10 years old, when not in school, you could find Githinji working side by side with his mother on their one acre farm, where they earned about $100-$200 per year. “Occasionally when our yield was low, we would go to other farms and pick their coffee for them for very little money. Sometimes we would pick and carry up to 520 kilos to the factory for another family. Most families like ours had their own children picking at their farms on Saturdays, but wealthier families often needed extra labor, so it was common to work on their farms after picking at your own farm for extra coin.” Until his appointment at Amref, Dr. Gitahi was the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa of Smile Train International, where he successfully established partnerships for long-term sustainability with various African governments. Dr. Gitahi began working as a Medical Doctor and moved slowly into management within the hospital environment where he discovered his passion for marketing.

Monique Vledder - Practice Manager, Global Financing Facility - Monique Vledder is the practice manager of the GFF. Previously, she managed the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest—which to date has committed $436 million in grants linked to $2.4 billion in financing from IDA—for 36 results-focused programs in 30 countries. Her expertise in maternal and child health, health financing, and health systems strengthening was built over 20 years of in-country experience, with a focus on southern Africa, East Asia, and Latin America for the World Bank, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, and World Vision International. She received her MD from the University of Amsterdam, an MPH in international health from Harvard University, and a diploma in health economics from the University of York.



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