UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, 14 April - With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is announcing the development of a Joint Action Plan for accelerating progress on maternal and newborn health.
"No woman should die bringing life into the world," said Secretary-General Ban. "We must create a seamless continuum of care that helps to improve the health of women from pregnancy through childbirth and builds the foundation for a healthy society."
Every year, hundreds of thousands of women and girls die in pregnancy or childbirth, and another 10-15 million suffer severe or long-lasting illnesses or disabilities caused by complications. The Joint Action Plan will bring together key partners -- including Governments, foundations, the corporate sector, civil society, and United Nations agencies -- in a targeted effort to improve the health of women and children.
The Secretary-General is convening a meeting of key partners on Thursday, 15 April, to further develop a set of concrete actions to advance the Plan.
"We cannot accept the fact that women continue to die in childbirth and that children continue to die from easily preventable causes. Now we must mobilize the necessary resources and know-how to save the lives of women and children and make sure we can achieve the Millennium Development Goals," said Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg.
"Increased and secure funding is essential to increasing the momentum towards achieving the MDGs, particularly goals 4 and 5. Therefore, governments must make health a priority -- increasing national health expenditures both through our current mechanisms, and through internationally integrated and innovative financing mechanisms for health. We need to ensure that discussions and negotiations related to health in the World Health Organization are supported," Vice President Boediono of Indonesia said.
"Canada welcomes the UN Secretary-General's focus on these urgent priorities. As G8 President in 2010, Canada is championing a major initiative to support developing countries in improving maternal and under-five child health. Commitments made at the G8 Muskoka Summit in June 2010 can make a tangible difference and will be a key contribution to the UN Secretary-General's initiative," said Beverley J. Oda, Canada's Minister of International Cooperation.
The Plan highlights the central role of women's health in sustainable development, and links women's rights with safe motherhood and child survival.
"A cornerstone of the Obama Administration's Global Health initiative is women and girl-centered programming that acknowledges women are the gateway to their communities," said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to ill health and are comparatively underserved by health services. When women receive the care they need, their families, communities and all of society benefit."
Calling for urgent and strategic efforts, the Joint Action Plan urges all stakeholders, developed and developing countries, civil society actors, private businesses, philanthropy and the multilateral system to each offer new initiatives and adopt an accountability framework that will keep maternal and child health high on the national and international development agenda.
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