The International Health Partnership and Related Initiatives (IHP+)

The International Health Partnership and Related Initiatives provide an important toolkit for development co-operation, providing a framework for agreement with partner countries to provide sustained support for integrated cross sector programmes of action committing both donor and recipient countries to working together and monitoring the achievement of agreed targets in relation to one agreed national health plan.

IHP Related Initiatives: The "+" symbol attached to the IHP signals the bringing together of a range of other initiatives which were established at around the same time as the IHP, and all of which aim to accelerate the achievement of the health related MDGs in line with the Paris Declaration. These include: Providing for Health (P4H), Harmonization for Health in Africa (HHA), Innovative Results-Based Financing (RBF), Deliver Now for Women and Children, Health Metrics Network (HMN), Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA)

Launched in London in September 2007 by UK Prime Minister (PM) Gordon Brown and the PM of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, the IHP+ is one of the most important global health initiatives of our time. Contrary to the emphasis on vertical programming (i.e. programming that focuses efforts on one or a group of diseases/issues), the IHP+ aims to re-popularise the horizontal health systems strengthening approach which focuses on building up the capacity of aid recipient country health systems and services. The IHP+ also aims to better coordinate global health actors at all different levels, whether international or local. In this respect the IHP+ is a response not only to calls to scale-up donor attention to the health Millennium Development Goals, but also the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the G8 Summit commitments to social protection.

The IHP+ is primarily a structure to improve the coordination of existing initiatives and resources. Precisely, the objectives of the IHP+ are:

  1. to develop 'country compacts' that commit development partners to provide sustained and predictable funding and increase harmonization and alignment in support of results orientated national plans and strategies that also tackle health system constraints;
  2. to generate and disseminate knowledge, guidance, and tools in specific technical areas related to strengthening health systems and services;
  3. to enhance coordination and efficiency as well as leverage predicable and sustained aid delivery for health;
  4. and to ensure mutual accountability and monitoring of performance.

The IHP+ aims to achieve these objectives through its mandate for building and coordinating partnerships between major donors, the "Health 8", recipient country governments and civil society as well as a handful of important other initiatives and institutions.

Donor countries that have become members of the IHP+ are predominantly European with the exception of two out of the current 12 members (including the European Commission). They are: Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Recently there has also been news that the USA is preparing to join the IHP+ in 2009.

Aid recipient governments play a central role in the IHP+. There are currently 10 countries which have become fully inaugurated signatories and four "adjunct" countries which are one there way to joining. Once a member, the country begins working with it IHP+ partner institutions to draft a country compact. This document serves in a similar manner as a poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP) but strictly for the strengthening of national health systems and services. Current IHP+ countries are: Burundi, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. Adjunct countries include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Niger. In 2008 country compacts where finalised and signed for Ethiopia and Mozambique. At the first Ministerial summit of the IHP+ in February 2009, Nepal became the third country to sign a compact.

International Organisations: In recent years nary an international development of health conference goes by without at least one speaker making reference to how overcrowded the international arena has become. The IHP+ seeks to improve coordination with the plethora of actors which have come on to the stage. The principle group of such actors are referred to as the "Health 8" or "H8", and these are: the WHO, the World Bank, GAVI, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNFPA, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition three other important multilateral organisation are also members of the IHP+, namely the African Development Bank, the European Commission, and the OECD-DAC.

The bulk of the IHP+ work is carried out at country level by inter-agency country health sector teams. These teams are led by representatives of the national government (Ministry of Health), and consist of development partners, including the H8 country-team members, bilateral donor organisations, local civil society, private sector actors, or other implementing bodies at the country level. An inter-agency core team has been set up at the international level which sees to the day-to-day coordination of the IHP partners and responds to the Inter-agency country health teams' needs for technical and administrative support. The core team is a joint operation of the World Bank and the WHO and its members are based in Geneva, Washington D.C. and Brazzaville. Also at the international level is the scaling-up reference group (SuRG) which provides oversight and strategic direction for the IHP+ process and the core team.

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