UN AGENCIES WELCOME G8 INITIATIVE ON MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH

By UN
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The heads of two United Nations agencies today welcomed the decision by leaders of the Group of 8 (G8) industrialized countries to boost efforts to improve maternal and child health in poorer countries, urging the world to ensure that no woman died while giving birth.

The Muskoka Initiative to promote the health of mothers, infants and children was adopted by G8 leaders on Saturday during their summit in the Canadian resort of Muskoka.

“Even though the number of women who die from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth seems to be declining, far too many mothers still die every day, which has a devastating impact on families, communities and nations,” Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said in a statement. “Given the wealth and technology of the 21st century, no woman should die giving life,” she added.

Canada, host of the this year's G8 and G20 summits, pledged to provide $2.85 billion over five years for initiatives designed to improve the maternal, newborn and child health.

“Saving women's lives is an important factor in saving children's lives, just as improving women's status in the world may well be the single most important factor in reducing global poverty,” said Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

“Prenatal care, skilled birth attendants, early and exclusive breast feeding, better primary medical care – these are key interventions we know can prevent the causes of most neonatal and many maternal deaths. To make a sustainable difference, we also need to work together to scale up integrated, community-based services that can save many child lives and are not only cost-effective, but also well designed to reach those in greatest need,” Mr. Lake added.

Ms. Obaid commended the Muskoka Initiative for its emphasis on strengthening health systems, expanding sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning, tackling gender inequality and promoting the human rights of girls and women.

“We support integrated health services, especially integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, to reach those in need. And we will continue to support health worker training, especially midwives, to save the lives of women and babies,” she added.

Ms. Obaid said that the Muskoka Initiative signified renewed commitment to maternal and child health, and pledged UNFPA's continued support of national efforts and mutual accountability for achieving greater progress to improve women's and children's health.

Accra / Ghana/ Africa / Modernghana.com