Special maternal, newborn & child health stakeholder event


Date/Time: Wednesday, 2 December 2009, 1700 – 1900 H
Venue: Room 752, 131 Queen Street, Ottawa
The Event: The PMNCH and SOGC\FIGO hosted parliamentarians, media and representatives of the non-governmental sector at an informal reception designed to build networks and awareness about The Partnership’s goals and new information about maternal, newborn and child health.

Pr Babatunde Osotimehin, Minister of Health, Nigeria
Pr Babatunde Osotimehin, Minister of Health, Nigeria. Photo: WHO
Maureen McTeer, Former First Lady, Canada, Canadian Representative
Maureen McTeer, Former First Lady, Canada, Canadian Representative. Photo: WHO

2 DECEMBER 2009 | OTTAWA, Canada - At an event coordinated jointly by SOGC and the PMNCH, high-level leaders in Canada and Nigeria called for the government to lead the G8 countries to focus development aid on the basics: the rights and health of women and children under five. More than one hundred listened to the message of the high-level advocates, who included the Liberal Member of Parliament and host of the event, Mr Bob Rae, the Honourable Minister of Health of Nigeria, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin and former first lady of Canada, Maureen McTeer.

Speakers from the co-organizers of the event included the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada President, Dr André Lalonde, Acting Chair of The Partnership and World Bank Vice-President, Dr Julian Schweitzer and PMNCH Director, Dr Flavia Bustreo.

Excerpts from the evening’s speeches, as delivered.

Canadian Member of Parliament Bob Rae

"We can only come to conclusion that, as a world, we have lost sight of some elemental values. We can prevent mother and child deaths. If we focus on this issue in all our development work, we can save a lot of lives. It is not complicated, it is simple. In the presence of former Prime Minister, Mr Joe Clark: I would like to acknowledge how much we owe him for his tremendous work in our development policy, our need to respond to Africa, our commitment to that continent. With the right attention and focus, we can do wonders."

‘”The health of mothers is key. It is something practical which we can do. It is also a moral obligation to do this work: we all have mothers — and mine will celebrate her 95th birthday tomorrow. In the past in Canada, childbirth was a risky, dangerous time. We like to feel we have overcome that in Canada. But not so in other places. The most beautiful time in life should not be a time of tragedy. We need to re-focus on maternal health, as it is something on which we can make great progress.”

Maureen McTeer: Former First Lady, Canada, Canadian Representative, White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood and SOGC, Public Member

Noting the presence of her husband, former Canadian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Joe Clark, Ms McTeer mentioned the short video aired and produced by White Ribbon Alliance on the impact of a mother’s death in childbirth on a family, community and nation. Ms McTeer called for Canadian Government and Parliamentarians to lead the G-8 and G-20 to ensure the health and well-being of women and children around the world.

“We know why we are here: to do everything we can to save the lives of women and children.... We are all committed to action and accountability and I will do my part, as the public member on the SOGC’s National Council and as the WRA’s Canadian representative, to urge our Government and all our Parliamentarians to keep their commitment to achieve MDG #4 and #5 and to ensure that these commitments are again at the heart of the G-8 and G-20 agendas when world leaders meet here in Canada in June of next year. I look forward to working with all of you to achieve these goals.”

Dr Julian Schweitzer: Acting Chair, PMNCH and Vice President, World Bank

“We have survived the financial crisis, but we have failed in our duty to protect the most vulnerable: the scandal that half a million women die in pregnancy and delivery, and some 20 times that suffer injury. We know that the vast majority of maternal and newborn deaths—more than 80%-- are completely preventable. This is a human rights issue, it is a political issue. And it is time to put an end to it.“

Dr Schweitzer spoke to the role of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in the work to spearhead action to achieve the internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 — to reduce child and maternal mortality. He spoke of the up-coming Board meeting about to be held in Ottawa, 3-4 December: “This meeting in the next few days, our efforts and affirmation, is geared to really move this agenda in the next five years. We don’t want to come back in five years, and say there has been no progress.“

Dr Flavia Bustreo Director, PMNCH

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health spoke to the power of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, bringing together six constituency groups: “ the development partners, including the Canadian International Development Agency, a board member; the health care professional organizations, research organizations, civil society organizations, and the most sober, the multi-laterals. We welcome the emerging coalition in Canada – UNICEF, Care, World Vision, Save the Children and PLAN. Tomorrow, The Partnership will speak to some members of the Canadian Parliament. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of women and children.”

Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, Minister of Health, Nigeria

“As countries, we have signed agreements to ensure the empowerment and health of women. Unfortunately, several things have blocked this from happening. The Partnership is working to enable that. HIV\AIDS is connected, the rights of women is connected. We cannot in any way underplay what the PMNCH seeks to achieve."

“Nigeria comes to The Partnership with many things happening on the ground, and looks forward to doing things in a better way. Nigeria represents 25% of Africa. We know that Nigeria cannot do it in isolation. We must make a difference in the lives of women. This is totally unacceptable, given we have the knowledge and technology. We cannot fail. Thank you.“