Partners' Forum, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
17 April 2007
More than 300 delegates filled the hall for the opening ceremony of the Partners’ Forum, hosted by the Government of Tanzania, the first-ever assembly of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. The evening ended with a joining and a show of hands—with the partners from around the world joining hands to save the millions of lives of mothers, newborns and children who die each year needlessly.
The event included a series of inspiring speeches by prominent leaders, including the President of the Pan-African Parliament, Ambassador Dr Gertrude Mongella, the Prime Minister of Tanzania, as well as a video made by health care workers in Tanzania and a performance by a prominent Tanzanian singer. The distinguished speakers emphasized that the ability of developing countries to successfully address poor maternal, newborn and child health outcomes depends upon political commitment and integrated efforts from the community to the international level.
Dr Francisco Songane, Director of The Partnership, in his introductory remarks, commented: “This Partners’ Forum provides a historic opportunity for all members to meet face-to-face for the first time. I want to thank each and every one of you for coming to join us here tonight, and this week. I look forward to the discussions, to the challenges, and most important, to finding common solutions and ways of working better together. YOU ARE The Partnership---you and your colleagues in the field, at your organizations and institutions.”
Rt. Hon Edward N Lowassa, Prime Minister of Tanzania, called for all African government to commit more resources to health, and in particular, maternal, newborn and child health. The Prime Minister stated “The first step for Africa towards achieving MDGs 4 and 5 is to translate our political commitment into financial delivery by increasing our budgets for health care to at least 15 percent of the overall national budget.” He also noted the importance of global dialogue on maternal, newborn and child health made possible through the Partnership, and the activities which must start to facilitate the sharing of best practices, and to allow countries to benefit from multi-country funding mechanisms.
Kul Gautum, Chair of the Partnership’s Interim Steering Committee and Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF: “We, the members of the Partnership, are facing a tremendous challenge today, which can also be interpreted as a great opportunity. Never before has such a broad coalition of maternal, newborn and child health partners come together as one, united in our efforts to implement the ‘continuum of care’ approach. Our common goal is to mobilize global support and the commitment of world leaders to the achievement of the MDGs 4 and 5.” Mr. Gautum said the Partner’s Forum will result in the establishment of clearly stated priorities that will guide the work of Partnership members in the coming decade – the accomplishment of these priorities, “creating a world fit for future generations”.
Ambassador Dr. Gertrude Ibengwe Mongella, President of the Pan-African Parliament and newly appointed Champion for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health in Tanzania: “issue of women’s health is no longer a ‘woman’s issue’, but is an issue of society,” imploring us to ensure that women’s survival remain a top national and international priority. Quoting an African proverb to describe Tanzanian women’s experiences of pregnancy, “I’m traveling on a long distance journey. I might come back, or I will die there,” Mongella questioned why this proverb is still applicable in today’s world. She ended her comments by discussing the inseparability of women and newborn health, and the need to collect good data as the starting point for effective action.
Honorary Professor David Homeli Mwakusya, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Tanzania provided detailed information about Tanzania's successes and set backs in its attemps to reach MDGs 4 and 5. He described the remarkable gains in child health the country has made (under-five and infant mortality rates showing a marked 24% decline respectively in the past five years), attributing these gains to increased coverage of known effective interventions. However, he noted that maternal and neonatal mortality rates remain high, and further reductions in child mortality are still greatly needed.
The Tanzania Partnership
The Tanzania Partnership was formed and launched at the Partners' Forum Tanzania meeting.
Play Your Part video and song
Play Your Part is a documentary that uses film and stories from the community to address mother and child health issues central to saving lives and achieving the Millennium Development goals.
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Introducing "Play Your Part", Rose Mlay, White Ribbon Alliance, Tanzania, 17 April 2007
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Photos credit WHO/Barny Trevlyan-Johnson