The Global Financing Facility – A Catalyst for Health, a Catalyst for Her

Expanding Country-Powered Investments for Every Woman, Every Child, and Every Adolescent


“The smart, scaled, and sustainable financing that the Global Financing Facility brings to countries will help us make a real breakthrough on universal health coverage, ensuring that all women, children and adolescents can live healthy and productive lives.”

–  World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim

Every year, in just 50 countries, more than 5 million mothers, children, and adolescents die from preventable conditions. The economies of these countries lose billions of dollars to poor health and nutrition. This issue goes beyond lack of access to healthcare; it is also an issue of equity, gender equality, and empowerment.

Limited access to health and nutrition at critical stages of life (including the early years, adolescence, and pregnancy) has lifelong impacts. It can continue cycles of intergenerational poverty and hold back women and girls from realizing their full potential and driving the change we want to see in the world.

Improving the health of women, children, and adolescents

The Global Financing Facility (GFF) was launched in 2015 with the goal to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths by 2030.  The GFF does this by working with low-income countries, donor governments (like Canada), and development organizations to encourage more governments to prioritize women, adolescent, and children’s health in their domestic budgets. The GFF, housed at the World Bank, also uses innovative ways to unlock more funding for these often neglected issue areas. For example, for every one dollar the GFF commits to specified health areas, like reproductive health or nutrition, the country could receive a grant worth seven times the initial GFF investment. Those are dollars going much further.  

Eligible countries also receive the expertise of the World Bank and other partners to come up with long-term sustainable plans that encourage innovative domestic resource mobilization (a term for money a government raises through domestic efforts like taxation) and coordination of development partners in the country. For example, the GFF in a country can bring big development funders, like UNICEF, the Global Fund, and Gavi, together with country governments to make sure all efforts are coordinated, increasing the efficiency of development dollars spent.

Canada, recognizing the potential of the GFF was an early supporter with a CAD $200 million initial investment in 2015. Three years after this launch we are now able to see some results of the first 16 countries supported. One great example is the encouraging results coming out of Cameroon.

Cameroon is a country with above-average rates of maternal and child mortality compared to the rest of the region. Maternal mortality, in particular, is more than double the average rate for similar lower-middle income countries.  After working with the GFF, Cameroon is planning to increase its budget for women and children’s health from 6 to 22 percent by 2020. Cameroon has chosen areas to focus on that will have the greatest impact including strengthening health systems and increasing access to family planning. There has been similar progress in Bangladesh, Guatemala and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is fantastic news.

In November 2018, the first replenishment of the GFF Trust Fund will take place. Their goal is to mobilize an additional US $2 billion from 2018-2023 to reach 50 countries with the greatest need and which have expressed interest in GFF support.  In order to achieve this goal, the GFF needs the support of countries like Canada. Canada has greatly supported the GFF in the past, with its pledges to-date totaling $220 million CAD. By committing $240 million CAD (a number calculated to demonstrate an ambitious increase from Canada’s initial commitment), to the 2018 GFF Replenishment, Canada will be investing in the lives and well-being of millions.

By continuing its support to the GFF Canada will also be encouraging other donors to invest and create even more impact.  A new commitment will also help Canada to realize the goals of its Feminist International Assistance Policy and deliver on its commitments to adolescent girls, including the Whistler Declaration on Unlocking the Power of Adolescent Girls for Sustainable Development announced at the 2018 G7 Development and Finance Ministers meeting.

The time is now to ensure no woman, child or adolescent’s life should be cut short by a preventable cause. A renewed contribution from Canada to the GFF is a catalyst for health and nutrition, and a catalyst for HER to realize her full potential and her impact in the world.

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