For countries striving to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals — and particularly MDGs 4 (reduce child mortality) and 5 (improve maternal health) — information is a powerful and essential force for change. Understanding which interventions are being delivered effectively, identifying gaps, and ensuring accountability can all help renew momentum for national efforts to save women’s and children’s lives. Countdown’s work at the country level can make a unique, catalytic contribution, by helping policy makers, health programmers, and advocates to:
- Increase public and policy attention to reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH), and to achievement of MDGs 4 and 5
- Focus national health strategies, investments, and programming to achieve high and equitable coverage of high-impact interventions
- Increase and more efficiently allocate financial resources for RMNCH
- Strengthen capacity to assess and analyze data, and to use data for evidence-based action
- Improve the quantity and quality of data, as national leaders become more aware of its importance and of current data gaps
- Foster accountability, both for committed actions and for outcomes
Countdown provides technical and financial support for in-depth case studies of country progress for women and children. Building country-level capacity to conduct this type of in-depth research is a central objective of Countdown, leading to better technical work that is conducted within specific country contexts and helping to build sustainable institutional capacity for ongoing monitoring and analysis of progress in RMNCH.
A Country Countdown is another practical way for countries to follow through on commitments to the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and Every Woman Every Child and on pledges to end preventable child deaths through the Commitment to Child Survival and A Promise Renewed. It enables countries to take stock, review recent progress, identify remaining challenges and actions required to accelerate progress, and ensure accountability.
Countdown has focused on direct country-level impact since 2006, when Senegal became the first country to hold a national Countdown conference. Since then, Nigeria and Zambia have conducted similar initiatives; beginning in 2013, several other Countdown countries are considering or moving forward on plans to organize Country Countdown processes. Because Countdown’s success will ultimately be measured by country-level results, providing support for Country Countdowns in priority countries is a key element of Countdown’s strategy moving forward.
Countdown has prepared a summary brochure describing the benefits of conducting a Country Countdown, the guiding principles that define the Countdown process, and lessons learned from country experiences. It is available in English and French.
Countdown has developed the Country Countdown Toolkit to assist countries in undertaking robust and effective Country Countdowns. The Country Countdown Toolkit includes definitions of key indicators; detailed case studies of Country Countdown experiences; PowerPoint presentations describing Countdown and its most recent global findings; and PowerPoint presentations customized for each Countdown country to show data from the 2012 country profile. In addition to the Toolkit, countries planning or considering undertaking a Country Countdown will find useful a range of global Countdown materials available on this website, including Countdown Reports, all country profiles, and research papers.