Lives in the balance - Statement by the Director-General

Partnerships meeting on maternal, newborn and child health

New Delhi, India
7 April 2005

Honourable Ministers, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

It is very encouraging to be with so many people who can make a major contribution to improving the health of mothers and their children. I'm delighted that the three partnerships — the Partnership for Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health, the Healthy Newborn Partnership, and the Child Survival Partnership — are joining forces. It gives us new ways to harmonize efforts and add to their effectiveness. The combined partnership will be a great asset for WHO and for health workers everywhere.

With the lamp-lighting and the flowers, it feels like a festive occasion. That is entirely appropriate since this gathering brings us the possibility of saving lives and reducing suffering.

Our agenda includes two of the toughest problems faced by health services everywhere: the shortage of well-trained staff, and financial barriers to care. The World Health Report reviews some of the ways that exist to tackle these problems. The expertise and experience of many of you here today can supplement that information.

Finding out about all these solutions is the first step, and I hope that we will have a very rewarding time doing so today and tomorrow. I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about our colleague Carol Bellamy who has been the head of UNICEF for the past ten years, and who will be moving on to other work at the end of this month.

She has been an excellent colleague and ally for WHO and will be very much missed. Her support in particular for immunization and the protection of children from HIV has been a great source of strength and encouragement for our work in these areas.

Her work on getting leaders to recognize their obligations towards children helped to shape the Millennium Development Goals. It continues to drive the work forward.

Thanks to her, our two agencies have achieved a great thing together, and so I would like to thank her publicly for her great contribution to our common cause.

I would like to express my warmest good wishes for your success. Thank you for all you have done and for all you will be doing in the coming months and years, to make every mother and child count.