Canadian leader puts women and children first
25 JUNE 2010 | GENEVA - Today's announcement from the G8 of $5 billion of new funds for maternal and child health over five years is an important step to realizing the dream of better health for women and children around the world. As host of this year's G8 Summit, Canada pledged $1.1 billion of that amount. "This welcome news means that the Canadian leader is willing to put women and children first," says Flavia Bustreo, M.D., Director of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH).
Under the Canadian presidency, the G8 has brought the world's attention to millions of needless deaths and the money needed to prevent them. For the first time, the whisper of political attention has turned into a roar. We now have actual dollars on the table and a public accountability framework to track how promises are kept.
History will mark 2010 as a turning point for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. The G8 pledge puts us closer to the $30 billion needed to reach our goals by 2015, and to making the United Nations Secretary-General's Joint Action Plan for Women's and Children's Health a reality.
The G8 commitment has also been accompanied by recent pledges by non-G8 actors, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Vision, and the Governments of the Netherlands and South Korea. This is a cause for much celebration.
The G8 pledge of $1 billion per year comes half way to meeting the critical need to double resources for maternal, newborn and child health, as set out in the PMNCH's "Call to Action for the G8". However, there are promising signs that the G8 recognizes the need for an integrated approach to the health of women and children, so that we do not prioritize "new programs" over previous pledges made by the G8.
Investments in education, livelihoods, gender empowerment, and the environment are critical determinants to the health of women and children. And within the arena of global health, we need enough money for a range of critical, complementary interventions. For instance, haemorrhage is the biggest reason why women die after delivery, but with HIV at the root of 20% of maternal deaths globally -- and higher in Africa -- it is clear that we must take a wider view of health, as women themselves do.
We will watch and see how the G8 will spend its money, supported by our 300+ member-organizations. We need investments in proven interventions that reach those most in need, and we need investment in the systems so desperately needed to provide that care, including midwives and community workers. In doing so, we will look to the G8 to walk the talk: Transparency is critical to success -- a key principle reflected in the Countdown to 2015 report, which tracks the progress of the world on maternal, newborn and child survival.
We are delighted to see more money from the G8 for health -- now we need more health for the money. Our goal: Every pregnancy wanted, every birth safe, every newborn and child healthy.