Countdown Holds Its 2024 Annual Meeting

From April 22- 26, 2024, Countdown to 2030 convened its 2024 annual meeting in Kigali, Rwanda under the theme, “Producing Reliable National and SubNational Health Statistics with a Focus on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N).”  The meeting was hosted by African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in collaboration with the Rwanda Ministry of Health, University of Rwanda and Global Financing Facility (GFF).

The meeting which symbolized Countdown’s commitment to advancing RMNCAH+N in the world brought together over 260 researchers and data analysts from academic institutions and Ministries of Health in 26 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and development partners including APHRC, World Bank, GFF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization, the West Africa Health Organization, GAVI, and  United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Their collective aim was to conduct an endline analysis and establish national and subnational-level estimates for crucial RMNCAH+N indicators.

Speaking during the meeting’s opening ceremony,  Rwanda Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Health Zache Iyakaremye, noted that the workshop theme represents a pivotal moment in the collective efforts to ensure the wellbeing of women, children and adolescents across the world.

 “The Rwandan Ministry of Health values evidence-based interventions that are  people centered. The workshop being held here is aligned to our commitment of evidence use in intervention designing and policy formulation. We stand united and committed to analyzing RMNCAH+N data, recognizing its important role in providing evidence-based interventions that we plan to have,” Zachee said.

He added, “As we embark on this journey of data analysis and knowledge exchange, collaboration and learning, let us take this opportunity to deepen our understanding, share best practices as well as forge strategic partnerships.”

Countdown Project Director, Cheikh Faye shared that Countdown to 2030  is guided by a strong commitment to strengthening countries capacities for RMNCAH+N evidence generation and monitoring, with a focus on coverage, equity and drivers.

“Through collaborative partnerships and innovative solutions, we strive to empower governments and academics to inform programs and policies, and save lives,” Cheikh said.

Cheikh challenged the academic institutions present to follow APHRC excellence in driving evidence generation, research capacity strengthening, and policy engagement in Africa by supporting their respective governments and policy-makers for the best of the populations.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation representative Pamela Rao noted that looking at the evolution of countdown for the last 15 years, it is exciting to see the global networks established to be able to progress together. This network has analytic data centers in three regions that strengthens the capacity of countries to measure their own progress for RMNCAH+N.

“It is exciting to see the strong partnerships formed between academic institutions and Ministries of Health and how they are able to sit together in this meeting, learn together and solve their country’s issues, and use data as an evidence for making decisions. It is not just the number of reports we produce or the number of publications we make, it is how we shape policy and programs by the windows of opportunities in the political economy of the countries you work in,” Pamela noted.

GFF representative Peter Hansen shared that these annual meetings are crucial for achieving the GFF’s goals around engaging with a broad group of country partners, allowing them to collaborate with each other and global experts to advance the use of data for improved policy making.

The meeting ​analysis topics include how to calculate facility data numerators and denominators for facility data, national and subnational coverage, maternal and perinatal mortality rates, outpatient and inpatient service utilization, and other health systems performance measures.

Since 2016, Countdown has hosted more than 20 multi-country analytical workshops. The annual meetings in partnership with the GFF were held in Senegal in 2023 and in Kenya in 2022; they were conducted online in 2020-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year we are privileged to have four new countries join in; Somalia, Mauritania, Central Africa Republic and Madagascar.

Before the meeting, country teams had downloaded relevant datasets from the countries’ health information systems, as well as data from nationally representative surveys. During the workshop, they will analyze key information related to health service use, mortality rates, and equity. After the workshop, they will finalize the results and share them with decision-makers in their countries.

Learn more about Countdown annual meetings.