Posted on 29 January 2010

London, 7-8-9 December 2009

  • Representatives from the seven pilot countries: Ghana, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru, Philippines, Uganda, Zambia.
  • MeTA Consultants
  • International Secretariat members
  • DFID

The purpose of the three-day meeting was to bring together key stakeholders working on  MeTA at country level to discuss:

  • MeTA concepts
  • Putting MeTA into practice
  • Key issues such as mutli-stakeholder processes, data collection and disclosure, documentation and evaluation.

The event started with a key discussion on: what is transparency?

 Participants responded:

  •  ‘Transparency is having nothing to hide. If anyone wants information, you can give it to them.
  • ‘Whoever wants data can get it easily, without having to jump through hoops.
  • ‘A question around transparency is how to making people aware firstly that they can access information and secondly where they can get it.’‘It is the steps you have to take to get the information that matters.’
  • ‘Transparency is not about the documents, or what can be published. It is about people transmitting what they want to say and being able to do this without barriers.’
  • ‘Transparency and accountability go hand in hand. Transparency isn’t enough of an end in itself; it is a means to ensure that consumers are more empowered, and it is a way of ensuring good governance so that the citizen can hold its government to account
 Country discussions

How MeTA operates in their country:

It was clear that the countries have different structures and ways of operating. Some countries have a larger national secretariat than others with several full-time and part-time paid staff. Other countries just have one person operating at the secretariat. Also, the number of council members differed from 15 members to 25 members. All of them have representation from the three sectors: private, public and civil society. Some countries have sub-committees designated to deal with particular issues such as data collection, communication and advocacy and technical assistance.

Presentations on MeTA priorities and milestones

Successes and challenges in relation to milestones:








International MeTA Secretariat:

The group also discussed, programme implementation, monitoring and reporting and financial systems and reporting.

Strengthening multi-stakeholder processes and data disclosure

The group discussed the following issues: What works? What doesn’t work? What’s happening? Why use a multi-stakeholder process? Does it matter who calls the people together?

Some key points were:
  • Yes, it does matter who calls the process. It is rare for all three sectors to sit around the same table. It is good to have a ‘convenor’ to create an opportunity for different stakeholders to come together.
  • MeTA is a catalyst to bring people together. Once we analyse the process, the people become owners of the process.
  • Building trust and developing mutual respect between stakeholders is key.
  • There should be a sustained commitment to transparency by all stakeholders and a willingness to be mutually accountable. Sustaining the interest of stakeholders over time is vital.
Some challenges that people identified were:
  • Data about medicines disclosed by MeTA stakeholders could be mis-used by third parties other than MeTA members for other purposes inconsistent with MeTA goals (e.g. repressive measures).
  • Lack of human resources to run an efficient secretariat at country level is an issue.
  • Bridging the gap between research and action, and converting findings to concrete results is a problem.
Discussion on multi-stakeholder processes

Quotes from participants:

“It is possible to get people round the table and keep them there because it is safe, there’s nothing that has been discussed that is problematic. If they talk about process, then it is very safe. It is more challenging when there is data on the table, when the real issues are discussed. Then we will see who carries on participating and who leaves.”

“The stakeholders are there but what data are we going to start discussing. It is a challenge to find what data we will look at. We have sustained the interest of all the stakeholders, but now when we look at data what will happen?”

“All the stakeholders are needed by each other, they are all interdependent. It is important how we present MeTA. We need to present it as a process, as a way of managing relationships.”

“We’ve all accomplished getting the people to the table. However transparency is a rather abstract term. It involves a serious of factors, human resources, technical, cultural, social aspects etc. It is these issues that have not been looked into. However MeTA has provided the opportunity to overcome.”

“We have to understand that MeTA is not going to solve the structural problems in our country.  We have to find out how actors can participate in a more active fashion.”

“Sometimes we are afraid of conflict in the space we have created with MeTA. I think you have to expect conflict, and in some cases, even welcome it. I have witnessed serious arguments at meetings, but people have walked back the next week.”

Data collection and disclosure

Participants discussed what disclosure and transparency mean within the MeTA hypothesis, an overview of the type of data being collected, the disclosure process, challenges and lessons learned.

Presentation by Samia Said

Key issues to emerge included:
  • Data will be disclosed through the national forum, website, mass print and electronic media.
  • Data disclosure meetings uncovered some of the official websites’ weaknesses that hinder accessibility to published data.
  • There is not a ‘Right to information bill’ yet passed, and there is a culture of non-disclosure despite any existing policies.
  • Key disclosure on data about medicines availability is difficult to obtain. Some key data sources are not available as there is a fee to pay.
  • Need to be very careful so that information collected will not affect anybody negatively.
  • The link between use and ownership of data is inextricable. There needs to be a discussion about the multi-stakeholder group having responsibility for the data and guidelines on how it is used, which may differ from country to country.
Evaluation and post-pilot MeTA

Countries shared how they document MeTA. Key areas included:

  • Formal proceedings such as meeting agendas, minutes, workplans, financial records, correspondence etc.
  • Websites, films, interviews, media reports, newsletters, community radio

Saul Walker from DFID presented information about the MeTA evaluation and post-pilot phase.


Key issues included: understanding that not all countries have the same level of progress and it is interesting to see how MeTA works in different contexts.

Categories: Ghana, Jordan, Key Issues, Kyrgyzstan, Multi-stakeholder, Peru, Philippines, Transparency, Uganda, Zambia

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