25 November 2015

Countdown to 2015 is Dead! Long Live Countdown to 2030!

Coverage rates of different interventions from Countdown to 2015

When we were first setting up the Global Nutrition Report we looked to the Countdown to 2015 model.  Countdown to 2015 has been tracking progress for maternal, newborn and child survival for a decade now.  What has been learned?  A paper written by the Countdown to 2015 team (Cesar Victora is lead author) was published in the Lancet October 2015 and takes on this question.
As I said, Countdown to 2015 (CD) has been a big influence on the Global Nutrition Report.  8 months ahead of our first publication, before we even had a team, I was invited to a CD meeting in London in March 2014.  On the one hand I was so impressed by the professionalism and data driven nature of the work they do. On the other hand, I was depressed—how can we even come close to this in 8 months?  We did not do too badly, and that was helped by having 3 of CD’s independent expert group on the GNR’s independent expert group (Jennifer Harris Requjo, Zulfiqar Bhutta and Holly Newby).

The article is a nice summary of why and how CD came into being (from a Lancet 2003 series on child survival with a focus on MDGs 4 and 5) and all the different dimensions it tracks (mortality rates, coverage of programmes, equity, health systems and financing).
Perhaps because I am already familiar with the workings and data behind CD, I found the reflective sections of the paper the most interesting, especially those relating to the SDGs. 

First the focus on data, quality, coverage (especially coverage--I love the picture at the top of this post) and breadth has been really inspirational. The authors note this will get harder in the complex SDG world. In my opinion, too many of the 169 SDG targets focus on outcomes and not enough on coverage and resource allocation.
Second, the focus on inclusivity and collaboration means that CD is more than a report, it is a process that brings people, organisations and ideas together and increases the likelihood that data lead to action. It tries to be an accountability intervention. And, based on the attention it gets, CD is succeeding in this aim.    

Third, the paramount importance of transparency of the data: making it available and highlighting low quality data (and the problem of too much modeled data); while (diplomatically) calling out countries that are not performing that well.
Fourth, the self-accountability has been high—high quality peer reviews in the Lancet and elsewhere. 

Fifth, the reflections on the SMART-ness of the targets set in MDG 4 and 5 were interesting (specific, measurable and time bound, but perhaps not so realistic).   
Sixth, CD has been a champion for the need for better data and a guide on how and where to invest in better data. 

Finally, sticking with it for 11 years, and now thinking about how to adapt to and shape the SDG era is important (Countdown to 2030?).  These folks have shown a remarkable level of staying power and we applaud them for it. 
I look forward to seeing what CD 2.0 looks like and to linking more closely to it via the Global Nutrition Report.

No comments: