Family planning and reproductive health is being advanced by the Sustainable Development Goals and global initiatives like the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Every Woman Every Child Every Adolescent and Family Planning 2020 (FP2020). While the global community has made great progress reaching SDG indicators as well as initiative related targeted such as FP2020’s goal to position countries to keep their commitments to support and advance women’s reproductive health, accountability mechanisms are critical to keep countries and the global community on track.
At the global level, the Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) for the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Every Woman Every Child Every Adolescent is an example of how the international commitment is highlighting accountability to deliver universal reproductive health care including family planning for women. For example, in recent years there has been a global emphasis on respectful maternity care (RMC) to bring accountability for quality services women desire and should expect back to the forefront of health service delivery improvements at all levels. At community level there have also been an increasing emphasis on social accountability actions such as scorecards, dashboards, and other stock-taking mechanisms to promote improvements and uphold quality standards in primary health care services.
To increase accountability by governments to maintain and strengthen their on-going commitment to respond to reproductive health needs, efforts are needed to build national capacities to put in place functional accountability mechanisms that work at a national scale. Supporting civil society actors to use social accountability approaches and document their successes and challenges is key to creating accountability systems that work in the health sector. To achieve progress, stakeholders must know how to measure social accountability systems, identify where gaps exist, and have access to well-documented examples and lessons learned from which to draw from to improve their own national efforts. The Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development Project (HEARD) is supporting researchers to develop monitoring approaches, and assessments of how well accountability is implemented in countries, and strengthening reporting processes that support national-level duty bearers and global stakeholders to advance stronger social accountability systems and practices.