Partners collaboration key to raise profile of maternal + child health in Asia

30 JUNE 2009 | GENEVA

Dr Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, ADB + Dr Assane Diop, ILO
Dr Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, ADB + Dr Assane Diop, ILO

Organizer: The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health
Date: 30 June 2009
Venue: World Health Organization- Salle A

30 JUNE 2009 | GENEVA -High-level officials from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) praised the collaborative work of 10 partners in Asia and worldwide aimed to raise the profile of maternal and child health through the recent publication: Investing in MNCH- The case for Asia and the Pacific.

The remarks came during a special noon-hour panel focussed on the new publication at the World Health Organization which brought together: the the vice-president of the ADB for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Dr Ursula Schaefer- Preuss; the Executive Director Social Security, ILO, Dr Assane Diop who also heads the Initiative of the Social Protection Floor of the UN Chief Executives Board; the lead economists, Mr Henrik Axelson, The Partnership and Ms Karin Stenberg, WHO/ Child and Adolescent Health and Development. The panel was moderated by Dr Flavia Bustreo, Director a.i., The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health.

"I was delighted to launch the report (at the ADB meeting) in Bali with the Australian Secretary," said Dr Ursula Schaefer-Preuss. "What is clear is that MDGs 4 and 5 (for maternal and child health) need more attention, not just from health officials, but also from Ministers of Finance. This report contains knowledge for them. It is not just a call for more money, but for money better spent."

Dr Schaefer-Preuss pointed out that 10 partners had come together to work to produce and disseminate the Asia report, and that this modus operandi was a great strength: "Joint work is so important. We need to join our forces, come to one joint activity…knowing that MNCH is so important, especially in Asia."

Mr Axelson and Ms Stenberg presented the main messages found in the report:

    • Women and children's health are intrinsically valuable, and there are proven, affordable means of saving their lives;
    • Investing in MNCH is an investment in social justice, stability and economic growth;
    • An additional US $3 per person per year can make a significant difference to achieve MDGs 4 and 5;
    • To achieve MDGs 4 and 5, larger (US$10) and longer-term investment is needed, particularly in the health systems;
    • MDGs 4 and 5 will not be achieved unless significant additional resources are mobilized;

Dr Assane Diop spoke of the ILO's work with countries to ensure health, social services and income for the disadvantaged groups, including women and children. However, with the economic crisis, he pointed out that the challenge to achieve the Millennium Development Goals---including saving maternal and child lives--is now much greater than before. Dr Diop stressed two main messages: the need to ensure equity in health delivery, and the need for all partners to work together in the UN initiative.

"The United Nations Secretary General has asked the ILO and WHO and health partners to collaborate with other institutions to ensure access to health. In this mission, is included the fight for maternal and child health," said Dr Diop. "We must make sure all the actors interested in health issues focus their strategies and initiatives. In the case of maternal and child health, our main challenge is to not lose time and money on separate initiatives. The ILO is ready to play its part."

Dr Flavia Bustreo, Director a.i. The Partnership, concluded with a message of hope: Dr Bustreo pointed to recent world leaders who are leading new commitments and actions to achieve MDGs 4 and 5, including the High Level Task Force into Innovative Financing for Health. "The need for agencies to work together is stronger than ever. The Partnership is the platform to start this joint action. We have found, by working together with partners, we enhance the work of the single agency." She closed the session by announcing the Asia report has generated such interest, work has now begun on an "investment case for maternal and child health" for the African region.