MNCH all-party public forum on Canada’s Parliament Hill marks International Women’s Day


From left: Ms R. McCarney, Ms R. Affolder, Dr K.Martin, Dr D. Shaw & Ms B. Lynch
From left: Ms R. McCarney, Ms R. Affolder, Dr K.Martin, Dr D. Shaw & Ms B. Lynch

8 March 2010 | Ottawa – Some 200 people attended a special MNCH public forum on International Women’s Day which was organized by a non-partisan group of Canadian parliamentarians and Senators. Two roundtable panels addressed the question of “Canada’s Role in Saving Women and Children: Moving Forward on MDGs 4 and 5.”

The hosts of the event included: MP Johanne Deschamps, Senator Wilbert Keon, MP Megan Leslie, and MP Keith Martin. The two panels discussed:

Panel 1: What is the Challenge? Facing facts and seeing faces
  • CEO of Plan Canada, Rosemary McCarney
  • Bridget Lynch, President of International Confederation of Midwives (PMNCH Board member)
  • Chair: Maureen McTYeer, Rep for the White Ribbon Aloliance for Safe Motherhood, and Public Member, SOGC
Panel 2: Providing Solutions – The Way Forward
  • Dr Dorothy Shaw, Canada spokesperson for PMNCH for G8/G20; Senior Associate Dean, University of British Columbia
  • Rebecca Affolder, Advisor, Global Health Policy and Coordination, Office of the UN Secretary-General
  • Chair: Dr Keith Martin, MP
Maureen McTeer:

"Last year at the Summit in Italy, the G8 members endorsed a global consensus on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH)that committed G8 Governments to action to save the lives of women and children. This June, G8 members will be expected to go one step further and support their commitment from last year with new funds and resources for Reproductive MNCH, including the strengthening and integration of health care systems within countries. They will not be doing this in a vacuum, though, and the G8 commitments of funds and resources must be integrated into the international initiative of all UN countries that will be part of the Global Summit on the MDGs that the Secretary General of the United Nations has called for September. These are indeed exciting and promising times. "

Bridget Lynch (ICM\PMNCH):

Ms Lynch presented the MNCH mortality data worldwide, focusing on the lack of progress in achieving MDG5, reducing maternal mortality. She pointed to the centrality of the mother to the health of the newborn and young dependent children under five, noting the ‘Continuum of Care’ concept which is at the heart of The Partnership’s work, and last year’s all-party Resolution passed the Canadian parliament re-committing to MNCH support in June 2009.

Rosemary McCarney (Plan Canada)

Ms McCarney re-iterated the inseparable link between MDGs 4 and 5: “We were delighted as a Coalition and The Partnership to hear Canada’s announced initiative for MNCH.” But she re-iterated that “we cannot achieve one at the expense of the other.” Ms McCarney laid out elements of the solution, including a basket identifying main interventions for children, mothers and newborns. to address newborn and maternal health, emphasizing the need to respond to national needs and health plans, the absence of user fees, and accountability to communities in respect to lives sasved, not just dollars spent. “Pledge lives: Get your G8 colleagues to talk about lives rather than dollars. It is easier to be accountable to communities. Although the last mile is the most difficult to reach, it gives the biggest return on investment in lives saved. We must act now. We don’t need technologies. We know what to do, how much it will cost. All we need is the commitment of the G8 to live up to the pledges they are prepared to make.”

Dorothy Shaw, Canada spokesperson for PMNCH for G8/G20; Senior Associate Dean, University of British Columbia

Taking Ethiopia as an example country, Dr Shaw traced the shocking data and outlined the causes, solutions and cost of paying for the remedies. She spoke of the importance of a skilled labour force, skilled birth attendants and the need for attention to family planning, for effective health systems that deliver a package of high-impact interventions along the Continuum of care, including improved child nutrition and prevention and treatment of major childhood illnesses. Dr Shaw pointed out that the cost is estimated to be US $ 2.5 billion in 2009 to US $ 5.5 billion in 2015. “With political leadership, we can prevent up to 1 million deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes, save 6.5 million children’s lives and 4.5 million newborn lives” in the next five years.

Rebecca Affolder, Advisor, global health Policy and Coordination, Office of the UN Secretary-General

“As a Canadian who has not lived in Canada for some time, I am really excited to be here today and see the strong commitment and leading role that Canada is taking on maternal, newborn and child health.” Ms Affolder stressed three key elements needed to make the most of the present opportunity: 1)political commitment, 2) financing and 3) accountability mechanism. She spoke of the SG Ban Ki-moon’s special commitment to the empowerment of women, and maternal, newborn and child health, and the work to get world leaders to commit to increase commitment at the G8, G20, African Union and the MDG Summit planned for September 2010. She also pointed to new and innovative financing opportunities that global health was developing, including GAVI’s IFFM, and the Massive Good health donation through travel reservations.

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