UNFPA/AFPPD: Getting the economics right
Creating national action plans for saving women’s lives in the Asia and Pacific Region
13 AUGUST/ BALI, INDONESIA - “Do Your Part, invest in women and children to invest in your health system” is the main message from The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health’s (PMNCH) Dr Flavia Bustreo to 80 parliamentarians, journalists, human rights experts gathered from 13-15 August 2009 at a regional consultation in Bali, Indonesia.
The "Asian and the Pacific Regional Consultation on Maternal Health and Rights", organized by United Nations Population Foundation (UNFPA) and the Asian Forum for Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) brings together participants from 11 countries in the Asia and Pacific Region.
The conference urges participants to develop national action plans which prioritize maternal health to reduce the high number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth and to inspire parliamentarians to put maternal health higher on the political agenda and implement the plans when they return to their countries.
On the first day of the consultation the participants reviewed facts, figures and arguments to use when promoting maternal health in a national setting with ministers of health and, more importantly, ministers of finance.
A key speaker, Dr Flavia Bustreo, PMNCH Director, presented the publication "Investing in MNCH - The case for Asia and the Pacific" and showed how saving lives makes economic sense even during a current financial crisis. “Investing in maternal, newborn and child health is an investment in the whole health system,” she said. Dr Bustreo gave the microphone to parliamentarians from throughout the region, who shared examples on successful investments in maternal health.
Others speakers and PMNCH members in the consultation included:
- Ian Anderson, Advisor and Principle Economist for Health Service Delivery in the Asian Development Bank, argued that investing in maternal health is both economically sound and a political and social necessity.
- Saramma Mathai, UNFPA’s Regional Team Coordinator and Technical Adviser on Maternal Health in the Asia Pacific Regional Office, focused on the quality of maternal health care and what needs to be done.
- Anand Grover, the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, spoke on the right to health and maternal health in particular, and the need to focus on the issue.
A substantial discussion on the role of media and advocacy in political and public agenda took place, with the presentation of examples from countries in Asia and the Pacific.