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The UK Parliament’s International Development Committee (IDC) has today published a report on the debate about the development framework to follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. The report wraps up the IDC’s ‘enquiry’ on the post-MDGs during which they heard from VIPs like Amina Mohammed, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on Post-2015, as well as a range of academics and civil society actors, including written evidence submitted by the AfGH UK network.

The report is a departure from the usual work of the IDC holding the Government to account on their development work. Here they are informing and shaping the future agenda. There is much to welcome in the report. Critically for AfGH, the IDC has put its weight behind the potential of Universal Health Coverage as an important way to capture different health needs and interests in the next development framework. It notes that this needs to be done in such a way that the current MDG emphasis on maternal and child health is not lost and elsewhere that the vital unfinished business of the MDGs, which includes all of the health targets, is not forgotten.

AfGH’s own position on the post-2015 framework is that it needs to recognise health as a right in and of itself as well as key to equity and sustainable development, and that ill-health is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. To deliver on improved health outcomes for all the next global development framework needs to: promote and be accountable for ensuring improved health outcomes for all, including the poorest and most marginalised communities; commit to the provision of universal coverage and access to high quality health care services; include the unfinished business of the MDGs; and, tackle the social determinants of health that are mostly responsible for inequity.

Other highlights of the IDC’s report include a focus on equity, learning from the MDGs experience with aggregate targets and how this served to exacerbate and mask inequalities. It is a prompt that UK Prime Minister David Cameron needs to better define what is meant by ‘the golden thread’, a current favourite term that seems to be a catch-phrase for many different aspects of the Government’s development agenda. Recognition of the need to advance the rights of women, with specific mention of gender inequity related to health, is also welcomed.

However, we wouldn’t be playing our civil society watchdog role if we did not find some key items to critique. The report does not make specific mention of a rights-based approach to development and how the next framework needs to be grounded strongly in human rights. It recognises the importance of including the voices of the poor in consultations but should include a broader understanding of vulnerability that goes beyond poverty. The report talks about all global actors having a role to play in a development partnership but is vague on how to provide coherence between development objectives and other key policy areas such as trade and taxation.

One key area of the report is the focus that the work of the High-Level Panel on the Post-MDGs should be transparent and that consultation processes should be inclusive and seek to capture a range of voices.

AfGH UK will be keeping an eye on the recommendations in the IDC’s report and how they’re taken on board by the Prime Minister as well as the rest of the Government. We are, however, pleased to see UK Parliamentarians taking an important role in informing and questioning what has been happening around the post-2015 agenda and we hope to continue to work with them on this.

Rebecka Rosenquist is a Policy and Advocacy Manager for Interact Worldwide, a member of Action for Global Health.

Action for Global Health (AfGH) is a broad European network of NGOs advocating for Europe to play a more proactive role in enabling developing countries to meet the Right to health for all and the Health Millennium Development Goals. 

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