Partnership calls new G8 investment in maternal, child health "more urgent than ever"
Mothers and children most vulnerable to impact of food and energy crises
8 July 2008, Hokkaido/Geneva - G8 leaders and Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda must commit a new US$10.2 billion per year for maternal, newborn and child health to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly at a time when rising food and energy prices are threatening to increase poverty and malnutrition among women and children, rolling back progress, according to The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health.
"The need for such help is more urgent than ever," said Dr Francisco Songane, Director of The Partnership. "Even before these global crises, hunger and poverty were key underlying causes for many of the 10 million maternal, newborn and child deaths occurring every year in developing countries. We are afraid that unless help comes now, the situation will worsen and the MDGs will continue to evade our grasp."
New research from The Partnership's landmark Countdown to 2015 report (April 2008) shows that more than 3.5 million children and 100 000 pregnant women and mothers die every year from conditions caused by under-nutrition.
Now, the global food crisis presents an even greater threat to women and children, with food prices increasing by 83% over the past 36 months (World Bank). Already, nearly 50 million more people have been pushed into hunger in 2007 as a result high food prices, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
MDGs 4 and 5, which aim to reduce child and maternal deaths, are considered the most "off-track" among the eight MDGs. This is a result of weak health systems in high-burden countries; the chronic shortage of health workers; underlying hunger and poverty, and a major lack of global political leadership on this issue.
The 2007 G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, pledged at least US$60 billion to scale up efforts for the MDG 6, covering HIV, TB, and malaria and strengthening of health systems. The pledge also highlighted "the need to make the health services available to all, including poor and vulnerable groups such as women and children".
One year since this pledge, it is highly critical that G8 leaders must not backtrack from this prior commitment to MDG 6, but also they should not "tick off" the new investment needs for MDGs 4 and 5 and the health of women and children, where the needs stretch far beyond health systems strengthening.
In spite of the urgent need to boost progress towards MDGs 4 and 5, several G8 countries have reduced their investment in maternal and child health in recent years. Italy -- home to the 2009 G8 meeting -- has reduced disbursements from US$21 million in 2003 to less than US$3 million in 2005. France has reduced its aid from US$43.7 million in 2003 to US$8.7 million in 2006 (The Lancet, 2008).
"In the case of Italy, the current level of investment is just 5 cents of a US dollar per capita compared with US$31.80 per capita in Luxembourg and US$10.30 per capita in Norway," said Dr Flavia Bustreo, Deputy Director of The Partnership. "This is a rich opportunity for Mr. Berlusconi, host of next year's G8, to create his legacy."
Japan has been one of the steadier donors to maternal, newborn and child health. It invested over US$120 million in 2003 which was increased to about US$149 million in 2006. Moreover, The Partnership congratulates Japan for placing the MDGs 4 and 5 on the agenda of the G8 for the first time.
"As a Japanese NGO, we commend our government's initiative. But the G8 hosted by Japan can not end without pledging specific, measurable new funding for maternal, newborn and child health. Japan knows from own experience that by placing mothers and children first, a country can build strong health care and long-lasting development," said Makoto Yaguchi, JOICFP, a member of the Partnership.
“To save the lives of 6 million mothers and children each year, we know what to do, we know how to do it and we know the cost. Saving women’s lives saves money: an investment of US$5.5 billion would return three times as much-US$15 billion in productivity regained. Making the investment of US$10.2 billion annually, in MDGs 4 and 5 will bring multiple benefits to women, children and their families. Clearly, this would be a sound economic investment,” according to Jill Sheffield, Family Care International, a member of the Partnership.
Globally, only around US$3.5 billion--one third of the needed US$10.2 billion for maternal, newborn and child health have been invested in maternal, newborn and child health services as of 2006. No new funding from the global community this time will mean even more deaths and loss for poor families.
The Partnership is a global coalition of 250 organizations working to reduce more than 10 million maternal, newborn and child deaths occurring almost exclusively in poor countries. For more information, visit www.pmnch.org. To add your voice to the Global Call to the leaders of the G8 and other nations, visit http://www.countdown2015mnch.org/g8/ .
For further information, contact:
JOICFP--Japanese Organization for International
Cooperation in Family Planning
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