World Health Assembly

Geneva

 2006 World Health Assembly

The former Prime Minister of Norway and the United Nations Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik, challenged Ministers of Health and their delegations at the World Health Assembly to take immediate action to save lives of 11 million mothers, newborn babies and children under five who die each year, mostly from preventable causes. "These figures, which exceed the number of deaths caused per year by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, are evidence of one of the starkest health inequities of our time," said Mr. Bondevik.

Mr Bondevik was speaking at a special briefing on the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) at this year's World Health Assembly. Mr. Bondevik called on politicians and decision-makers to take immediate and urgent action. "This not only represents an unacceptable disparity, but shows that we are not even meeting the first benchmark of development - keeping women and children alive. We want our world leaders to stand up for women and children." said Mr. Bondevik.

Facilitated by Dr Songane, other panel members spoke to the importance of the Partnership from different perspectives, including non-governmental organizations, donors and member countries represented by the Minister of Health, Bolivia, Dr Nila Heredia and Minister of Health, Ethiopia. "We need to get out of 'Business as usual'," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Health in Ethiopia. "Mothers and children deserve our whole commitment and the resources to really make a difference."

"We the NGO's believe in partnership," said the Deputy Executive Director of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Commission, Dr Mustaque Chowdhury. "The MDGs cannot be achieved unless different stakeholders join hands together. In this, effective partnership is not only desirable but necessary."

From the Department of International Development United Kingdom, Dr Stewart Tyson spoke from the donor perspective: "The health architecture has become ever more complex and fragmented with the emergence of more and more health initiatives and partnerships. The Partnership, by merging three existing initiatives, sends a strong signal of harmonization, of reducing duplication of effort and demands on countries."

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