International Health Partnership
The International Health Partnership (IHP+) is a group of partners committed to improving the health of citizens in developing countries. International organizations, bilateral agencies and country governments all sign the IHP+ Global Compact. They commit to putting the principles for aid effectiveness and development cooperation into practice in the health sector. IHP+ achieves results by mobilizing national governments, development agencies, civil society and others to support a single, country-led national health strategy. Partners aim to hold one another to account. This global initiative is administered by the World Health Organization and the World Bank.
Faster progress to achieve results requires governments, CSOs, the private sector and especially international development partners to take action. The most critical areas for action for development partners have become known as the "seven behaviours". Global health agency leaders recently endorsed these seven behaviours, and have met five times in order to discuss obstacles to progress in these key seven areas. As of June 2014, Agencies have committed to action in one specific area: streamlining the measurement of results and accountability.
History and Principles of the IHP+
Improving health and health services involves governments, health workers, civil society, parliamentarians and other stakeholders working together. In developing countries, money for health comes from both domestic and external resources. This means that governments must also work with a range of international development partners. These partners are increasing in number, use different funding streams and have diverse bureaucratic demands. As a result, development efforts can become fragmented and resources can be wasted.
In 2005, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness set out principles for making aid more effective. These principles include ownership, alignment, harmonization, mutual accountability and managing for results. In 2011, the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness signaled a shift in thinking from traditional aid effectiveness to a broader, more inclusive approach to development cooperation, a greater emphasis on considering domestic and external resources together, and on results.
IHP+ began in September 2007 in order to put these international principles into practice in the health sector and accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Since then it has worked to encourage more inclusive national health planning and joint assessment (JANS) processes, more unified support to national plans through country compacts, one monitoring & evaluation platform to track strategy implementation, greater mutual accountability, improved civil society engagement and financial management harmonization and alignment. The initiative arose from pre-existing developments aimed at improving health outcomes and improving aid effectiveness, including the High-level Forum (HLF) on the Health MDGs, the post-HLF process, and the HLF on Aid Effectiveness.
IHP+ has partners from around the world including developing countries, civil society organizations (CSOs) and development partners. Originally, 26 signatories including 7 countries, 18 bilateral and multilateral partners, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation signed the IHP+ Global Compact  for achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals. The Global Compact is the initiative's foundational global document that is signed by all partner countries, international agencies and bilateral donors when they join the IHP+. The Compact sets out the goals and approach of IHP+ and contains collective and individual commitments by signatories to adhere to agreed aid effectiveness principles. Signatories agree to support country and government-led national health plans. Currently, there are 63 signatories to the Global Compact (as of June 2014).
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) play an important role in IHP+ at both the country and global level. At the country level, civil society encompasses patient groups, health workers, medical or health unions and associations, faith-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, academic institutions, media, advocacy groups, refugees, women, youth and other neglected or vulnerable groups. At the global level, civil society is included in IHP+ governance bodies. The IHP+ Steering Committee and Reference Group each include one northern and one southern civil society representative, who draw on a Civil Society Consultative Group of up to 12 civil society members, to discuss IHP+ related issues and activities. IHP+ thematic working groups also include civil society representation. IHP+ supports a small grants programme for southern CSOs called the Health Policy Action Fund. This is designed to strengthen the capacity of southern CSOs so that they can engage more meaningfully with national health policy processes.
In addition, IHP+ collaborates with related initiatives including Harmonization for Health in Africa (HHA); the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA); H8; Health Metrics Network (HMN); Providing for Health (P4H); and follow-up activities of the Commission for Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health (COIA).
IHP+ encourages inclusive ways of working, and governments, CSOs, private organizations, parliaments and international development partners all have a role to play in the process. IHP+ works in six key areas to change the way we work together in countries:
- Inclusive health planning and joint assessment (JANS) processes. JANS is a shared, systematic approach to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a national health strategy.
- Country compacts. These are negotiated agreements in which governments and development partners make commitments on ways to support implementation of a national health strategy. Compacts include agreements on aid modalities, and management and monitoring arrangements.
- Harmonization with and alignment to country financial management systems. Joint Financial Management Assessments and Joint Fiduciary Arrangements are useful tools for strengthening & aligning with government systems and reducing transaction costs. These also help to improve the use of scarce resources and increase transparency and accountability.
- Monitoring & Evaluation. IHP+ supports the development of one common country platform to monitor and review the implementation of a national health strategy.
- Mutual Accountability. Building stronger health systems means holding each other to account for decisions and actions. IHP+ encourages greater mutual accountability by monitoring progress on partners' commitments. The IHP+ results monitors progress on commitments made, with indicators based on the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
- Civil society engagement. CSOs are crucial partners in countries and at the global level. They make important contributions to planning, implementing and monitoring national health strategies.
IHP+ also works to enable greater south-south knowledge exchange. Experience of working with multiple partners to deliver better results is growing. IHP+ is fostering more systematic approaches to learning with and across countries, through existing networks where possible.
- "Britain launches global healthcare plan for poor countries", ABC News (Australia), September 6, 2007.
- "Brown launches global health plan", Associated Press in The Hindu, September 5, 2007.
- Bobby Ramakant, "International Health Partnership to strengthen health systems", Asian Tribune, September 11, 2007.
- McCoy, David (2011). "The IHP+: a welcome initiative with an uncertain future". The Lancet 377 (9780): 1835–1836. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(11)60774-5.
- Hill, Peter S (2012). "Development cooperation for health: reviewing a dynamic concept in a complex global health aid environment". Globalization and Health 8 (5). doi:10.1186/1744-8603-8-5. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
- PDF signed version from the Global Compact
- H8 stands for Health eight, an informal gathering of eight international agencies coming together to improve their effectiveness in providing health in Low and Middle Income Countries.Composed of the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, GAVI Alliance, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank