World's Foremost Experts Offer 4-Point Checklist for Success of the G8's Marquee Issue: Maternal and Child Health
22 June 2010 |Geneva – Almost half of pregnant women in the developing world deliver their babies at home. Most of them are frightened because there is no midwife or skilled attendant to help if things go wrong. What will the mother do if she starts to bleed, the baby gets stuck or stops breathing?
The results are devastating. Hundreds of thousands of women die in childbirth each year - one every minute. When mothers die, babies often die or fail to thrive.
Every year, nearly 8 million children die by age 5 with 40 percent of them in the first month of life. About 80 percent of these deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
Even for those children who make it through the first month, killers like diarrhea and pneumonia often await. A child dies every three to four seconds. The majority of these deaths are preventable. We know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it and we have seen what can be achieved with relatively modest investments.
What is required is a seamless continuum of care including family planning, breastfeeding, hand washing, skilled attendance at delivery and childhood immunizations. There are multiple therapies and practices that have been proven to save lives. National data can prioritize which ones will make the biggest difference in the shortest time.
To its great credit, Canada has designated maternal and child health care as its signature issue as chair of this month's G8 Summit.This doesn't guarantee leaders of the world's richest countries will commit what's needed to stop these millions of needless deaths.
What are the criteria by which observers will measure the Summit's success?
The following is a four-point checklist from The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health. Hosted by the World Health Organization in Geneva, the Partnership represents more than 300 global and national organizations, leading efforts to improve survival of mothers and babies worldwide.
A doubling of annual aid to support maternal, newborn and child health.
At present, the G8 invests $2 billion annually in bilateral aid to maternal, newborn and child health. This must double to at least $4 billion per year. A proportionate increase in multilateral aid is also needed. This will be an important step to paying the G8's "fair share" of the additional $30 billion needed through 2015. That $30 billion would save the lives of an estimated 1 million women and 11 million children under five, and prevent 1.5 million stillbirths.
Canada is stepping up. We expect all G8 donors to follow through. Norway, which is not a G8 member, has shown tremendous commitment and leadership with a $1 billion commitment. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently pledged $1.5 billion.
Clear, explicit information about how much each G8 member will contribute is now required.
Committing to an integrated approach to the health of women and children, including the prevention and treatment of AIDS and malaria, which kill far too many needlessly
This has been recognized by the UN Secretary-General's new Joint Action Plan for Women's and Children's Health, to be launched in September at the 10-year progress review of the global Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Adopting clear indicators agreed by the G8 for tracking progress on maternal, newborn and child health
In 2000, the United Nations adopted the MDGs, to be accomplished by 2015. One of those goals, MDG 4, is a two-thirds reduction in deaths of children younger than five by 2015, compared with 1990. Another, MDG 5, calls for a 75 per cent cut in deaths of women related to childbirth, as well as universal access to reproductive health.
Ten years on, MDG 5 remains the most "off-track" of the MDGs. Child survival is increasing, but not fast enough. Improving the survival of women is important in its own right, and will also save the lives of newborns and children. The G8 must commit to clear indicators of what its new money will buy.
Investing in proven interventions that deliver maximum benefits for women and children
To improve maternal and child health, the G8 must focus its investments where need is greatest, and where the latest scientific evidence shows that clear benefits result. We need more health for the money, and more money for health.
G8 leaders, with Canada leading the way, are on the brink of historic decisions. We urge that they commit the resources needed to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every newborn and child is healthy.
Among the Partnership's four criteria: a doubling of aid from G8 countries, from $2 billion per year to at least $4 billion, as the G8's "fair share" of an estimated $30 billion in additional investments needed to reach the world's agreed goals for maternal, newborn and child health by 2015. That $30 billion would save the lives of an estimated 1 million women and 11 million children under five, and prevent 1.5 million stillbirths.
Experts with the Geneva-based Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, representing 300 of the foremost international organizations working on the issue, will take part in a media teleconference Saturday on the outcome of this week’s G8 meeting in Canada at which maternal, newborn and child health will feature prominently.
The Partnership Director Flavia Bustreo, MD, and Canadian spokesperson Dorothy Shaw, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, will offer reaction to the final G8 communiqué on a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. GMT / 7 p.m. British Summer Time) Saturday June 27. To join the call, please dial +1-303-664-6043, conference ID 8309014.
The Partnership will also release a statement on Saturday, following the G8 meeting. It will be available on this site.
Note for the press
For advance interviews or more information, please contact:
Mr. Terry Collins
+1-416-538-8712; +1-416-878-8712 (m)
Mr. Marshall Hoffman Washington DC +1-703-533-8482; +1-703-801-8602 (m) email@example.com