Address by Minister Bibeau to the Global Financing Facility: Revolutionizing Better Health for Every Woman Every Child at the Women Deliver Conference


May 17, 2016 - Copenhagen, Denmark

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with the Government of Canada’s communications policy.

Canada is committed to playing a leadership role in achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

That is why our priority is to refocus Canada’s international assistance on helping the poorest and most vulnerable people and supporting fragile states.

In order to deliver on this commitment, we will review our international assistance.

It’s much too soon to say what our new approach will look like.

But one thing is clear: the empowerment of women and girls will be at the heart of Canadian development policy.

That includes improving the rights and health of women and girls by closing the existing gaps in sexual and reproductive health care and services.

Canada has already committed $3.5 billion from 2015 to 2020 toward initiatives that focus on access to safe, reliable and high-quality family planning services.

When used effectively, family planning can reduce abortions, decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies and improve maternal, newborn and child health.

We don’t want to just help women and girls; we want to empower them to be in charge of their own health, their own livelihoods and their own futures.

Unfortunately, despite donor contributions, the funding gap for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in developing countries is a staggering $33 billion per year.

It is clearer than ever that we need to find new ways to finance the delivery of health services to the poorest and most vulnerable, who are—as you all know—most often women and children.

That is why the Global Financing Facility, or the GFF, is so important.

There is nothing like it out there.

The GFF is innovative because it is shifting the trend away from traditional ways of financing development, like official development assistance.

Don’t get me wrong: official development assistance will always have an important role to play. However, on its own, it will never be enough.

The GFF is the first mechanism that encourages developing countries to mobilize their own resources for health from both international and domestic resources.

This includes taxation and attracting strong investments from the private sector. 

Ultimately, the goal is to assist developing-country governments to fund and manage their own health sectors. But in order for this to be achieved, we must work through national processes.

I know it will take some time, but I really think it’s important to underline the importance of this step.

Bringing all of our collective health investments in a country under one roof is critical to strengthening both national health and financing systems. That means making them part of that country’s national budget, where all the incoming funds are tracked through government processes. This will make a lasting difference in people’s lives.

Also, accountability, transparency and sound financial management are critical to ensuring that our investments make a lasting impact.

If done properly, the GFF can help to:

  • close the funding gap for health sectors in developing countries;
  • increase aid coordination;
  • encourage transparency and accountability;
  • reduce duplication of efforts by donors, developing-country governments, international organizations and civil society; and
  • make it all sustainable.

It is encouraging to see real progress in countries that are preparing their national investment cases—as described by my colleague from Liberia today.

Together, the 12 GFF countries represent 60 percent of the total burden of maternal and child deaths among those who were eligible for implementation.

I believe that empowering women and girls by improving their health is key to achieving all other development goals.

When they are healthy, we all benefit, including future generations.

Furthermore, to ensure the continued success of the GFF, there are two particular things that I would like to underline today.

The first is the need to include the development of civil registration and vital statistics, or CRVS, systems into all country investment cases.

Sustainable development cannot happen until every individual is counted and everyone can participate in all aspects of society.

Currently, an estimated one third of the world’s births and two thirds of the world’s deaths are not properly registered.

The significance of this is more than simply bureaucratic.

It means that all over the developing world, millions of people pass through life without leaving an official trace.

If their lives are not recorded or if they don’t have proper legal documentation, they cannot be supported.

They cannot access social services like health care.

And they cannot provide for their families or reach their full potential. 

The impact of this is by far the greatest on women and girls, particularly when it comes to advancing their equality and rights, including health.

That is why CRVS systems are so critical.

Truly successful health planning depends on knowing where medicine and care needs to be delivered, to whom and when.

For example, if we do not track the causes of death, we cannot know how to best help women and girls who die during labour.

We need to improve information systems to know whether our efforts are working, so we can identify where we can make a greater difference.

The second thing I want to underline is that the GFF must be able to respond in humanitarian and conflict-related contexts.

In cases where governments have fallen or where reliable national systems don’t exist, we must work through non-state actors to ensure that we can still reach the poorest and most vulnerable with health services.

This is in line with the new UN Global Strategy consensus to prioritize improved reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health everywhere, including humanitarian and conflict-affected settings.

Canada’s support for the GFF is complemented by our government’s contribution to other innovative health initiatives, such as the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

As some of you may have heard, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just recently announced that Canada will host the 5th Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Montréal on September 16, 2016.

To that end, we will contribute $785 million for the Global Fund between 2017 and 2019, which represents a 20-percent increase from Canada’s last pledge. 

I hope others will join us in making a strong commitment to this important effort to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria for good. 

Together with the GFF, this support will help to strengthen health systems so we can improve the delivery of results for women’s and children’s health.

One statistic in particular should make it clear why the fight against HIV/AIDS is so critical for the future of women and girls in the hardest-hit countries: girls account for 80 percent of all new HIV infections.

The ambitious scope of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals demand that we all think, work, partner, finance and deliver development differently.

As a donor and trusted partner in development, Canada strongly believes the GFF has the potential to revolutionize the way countries deliver health care to their citizens.

Thank you.


Bernard Boutin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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