The Independent Expert Review Group (IERG) is on a historic mission to investigate accountability and oversight mechanisms Malawi has put in place to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets on maternal and child health.
IERG comprises nine members with different technical expertise and was established by the UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health in 2011 to review progress on implementation of the commission’s 10 recommendations.
Three IERG members—Professor Tarek Meguid, Professor Miriam Were and Sejal Hathi—are expected to meet government officials, civil society organisations and visit health facilities to investigate Malawi’s accountability and oversight systems which are recommendations seven and eight.
Malawi is the only country in Africa the group plans to visit and was chosen due to its good track record in reducing child deaths.
Meguid said in an interview at the start of their mission on Sunday, IERG, whose mandate spans from 2011 to 2015, is better placed to carry out these investigations independent of the UN because its aim is to improve the situation and enable countries like Malawi to catch up on MDGs.
“We want to see how much progress has been made in following those recommendations and what impact they have made. Being our first country visit, we feel the need to have more input from people on the ground and discover gaps that are not presented in country reports,” Meguid said.
Were added that the group is not on a fact-finding mission, but to learn the successes and challenges in oversight and monitoring of the health related MDGs.
Were commended Malawi’s efforts in meeting health-related MDG targets by reducing maternal deaths, especially under-five mortality, which is at 71 per 1 000 live births down from 112 per 1 000 live births in 2010.
The mission moves to Peru in May then Pakistani in August after which a report would be compiled and appended to the annual report to the UN Secretary General on their findings.