Restitution: New UN Programme to Reduce Preventable Maternal and Newborn Deaths in Uzbekistan
15 September 2023
The Uzbekistan Vision 2030 Fund, also known as the "Ishonch Fund," has announced a commitment allocation of USD43.5 million to support a new UN joint programme aimed at significantly reducing preventable maternal and newborn deaths in Uzbekistan. One of the key goals of the new programme is to increase the survival rate of low-birth-weight babies from seventy-five percent to ninety percent.
Further to the Agreement between the Swiss Confederation and the Republic of Uzbekistan on the Modalities for the Return of Illegally Acquired Assets Forfeited in the Swiss Confederation to the Benefit of the Population of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Uzbekistan Vision 2030 Fund is capitalized through a contribution representing a return of assets that have been definitively forfeited in criminal proceedings in Switzerland. The Fund, administered by the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office, will support principled, transparent, and effective asset restitution via programs aimed at accelerating the Government of Uzbekistan’s national reform agenda and the SDGs.
Consuelo Vidal-Bruce, the UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan, stated, "The return of assets to countries of origin is a fundamental principle of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). The contribution to the Fund, unlocked by the restitution agreement between Uzbekistan and Switzerland, will enable concrete advancements of the SDGs and directly improve the lives of Uzbekistan's citizens. This UN programme will reach 600,000 women and neonates within thirty months."
The new UN joint programme will be implemented jointly by UNICEF, UNFPA and WHO and will achieve these results through three key interventions:
- strengthening 227 perinatal centers’ governance mechanisms, policies, guidelines, and clinical protocols, and
- enhancing the capacity of the perinatal centers to provide quality inclusive health services procuring essential equipment and through capacity building of health care workers, and
- empowering 10 million Uzbek people with the knowledge to demand quality and inclusive reproductive maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services.
The Programme aligns with Uzbekistan's commitment towards achieving the SDGs and the 2022-2026 Development Strategy, emphasizing the enhancement of healthcare accessibility and quality. This commitment encompasses a range of reforms, including bolstering primary healthcare, emergency medical services, and support for vulnerable populations. Programme page: https://mptf.undp.org/project/00140334.
Ilhom Norkulov, First Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy of Uzbekistan, expressed, "Uzbek citizens will directly experience the positive impact as their communities gain access to perinatal centers equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and highly trained medical professionals. This collaboration exemplifies the Uzbek government's ongoing commitment to delivering tangible reforms. We are thrilled to partner with the UN and the Government of Switzerland on this transformative initiative which will help to achieve the government’s strategy to halve the infant mortality rate."
The Ambassador of Switzerland to Uzbekistan, Konstantin Obolensky, emphasized the importance of transparency in Fund management, stating, “Transparency is vital because it enables a clear tracking of funds. This clarity empowers civil society to easily understand how resources are distributed and utilized. When the public and civil society can observe the allocation of their funds, it fosters accountability and efficient resource allocation. This is especially important to take into account as the funds come from illicit sources."
The Uzbekistan Ishonch Fund is supported by an independent Civil Society Advisory Council, comprising nineteen members from both national and international civil society organizations. This council plays a pivotal role in promoting dialogue and collaboration between the Fund and civil society, serving as a consultative body. Importantly, civil society holds a significant position on the Project Assessment Committee, responsible for evaluating all project proposals before final decisions are made.
Sayyora Khodjaeva, an Independent Uzbek Democracy and Human Rights Lawyer who chairs the Fund's Civil Society Advisory Council, expressed her support, stating, "We endorse this new programme, and we are pleased to see these funds rightfully returned to the people of Uzbekistan. As independent civil society activists, we will closely monitor the programme's implementation to ensure it delivers maximum value for ordinary citizens."
For more information, please visit the Fund website here: https://mptf.undp.org/fund/uzb00