In the Public Interest: Health, Education, and Water and Sanitation for All
Oxfam International | September 1, 2006A new Oxfam and WaterAid report on essential public services and their role in human development. © 2006 Oxfam International.
Recommendations from the Summary
Developing country governments need to:
• Make sustained investments in essential education, health care, and water and sanitation systems and services. Specifically, they must emphasise preventative reproductive health policies and actively combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
• Abolish fees for basic education and health care and subsidise water for poor people.
• Enhance equity by making services work for women and girls and by improving their social status.
• Work with civil society and the private sector within a single, integrated public system.
• Train, recruit, and retain desperately needed health workers and teachers.
• Improve the pay and conditions of existing workers.
• Build an ethos of public service, in which both the public and essential service workers are encouraged to take pride in their contribution.
• Ensure citizen representation and oversight in monitoring public services and facilitate the participation of civil society in local and national planning and budget processes, including agreements and contracts signed with donors, the World Bank, and the IMF.
• Take a public stand and act against corruption.
Rich countries, the World Bank, and the IMF need to:
• Halt the pursuit of inappropriate market reforms of public services through aid conditions, technical advice, and trade agreements.
• Keep their promise to give 0.7 per cent of their national income as foreign aid and to allocate at least 20 per cent of that aid to basic services.
• Fully implement international commitments to improve aid quality, including the Paris commitments on aid effectiveness. Ensure that such aid is co-ordinated, predictable, and long-term, including further debt cancellation and increased budget and sector support.
• Financially support the removal of user fees in basic health care and education and the subsidising of water fees for poor people.
• Fully finance the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, ensuring that they support governments and public systems, rather than duplicating their activities.
• Work with poor countries to recruit, train, and retain 4.25 million new health workers and 1.9 million teachers, and invest in the skills of public utility and local government staff responsible for delivering water and sanitation services.
• Reduce the active recruitment of health and other professionals from poor countries.
Civil society needs to:
• Act together to demand quality public services, including free health care and education and subsidised water and sanitation services.
• Continue to build worldwide popular movements demanding government action, such as the Global Campaign for Education, the Global Call to Action against Poverty, and the women’s movement.
• Engage in local and national planning processes.
• Work with national parliaments to monitor budget spending, to ensure that services are reaching the poorest people, and that corruption is not tolerated.
• Challenge rich country governments, the World Bank, and the IMF when they fail to support public services.
• Work closely with government and other non-state providers to ensure increased innovation, learning, co-operation, and accountability in the provision of essential services.