I spent a great couple of days earlier this week with representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) from around the world who are members of our World Bank – Civil Society Consultative Group on Health, Nutrition, and Population. When it was launched earlier this year, we envisioned the consultative group as a forum for CSOs and our Bank-wide health team to share perspectives and discuss frankly any concerns we may have about our respective work in health, nutrition, and population, and to learn from one another. So it’s exciting to see this group beginning to move from theory to action.
During this meeting, we had some very frank and substantive conversations about what we are doing to help countries accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals for health, on health systems strengthening and measuring impact, results-based financing, and private sector participation in health. For me, probably the most enriching part was getting feedback on how the Bank is engaging CSOs at the country level in health. I heard lots of concrete examples of where Bank-CSO collaboration is making a real difference in poor people’s lives, such as CSOs implementing Bank-financed maternal and child health programs from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. I also heard many suggestions on where we can do better, namely in ensuring that our engagement is more structured and systematic, and that the Bank uses its convening role to enable CSOs to have a voice in policy formulation and play their watchdog role.
I am delighted to participate in this consultative group. I see its real value in holding us accountable for what we say and do, giving us guidance, and bringing us different perspectives on tough issues we face in the health sector. Of course, no one group can represent all of global civil society, but the members come from a pretty good cross-section of groups working in global health, including some of the largest international CSOs, to national CSO networks in Cambodia, Ghana, and Uganda, to a local grassroots organization in the Amazon region of Brazil.
We are committed to transparency, so look out for a summary of the discussion soon on our website.