World leaders cannot fail our women and children
Authors/Editors: Dr Francisco Songane
Publisher/Journal: The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Publication date: 2008
Leaders of the nations are gathering in New York to share ideas and solutions to accelerate action towards reaching the MDGs agreed in 2000. At this critical moment, we, the Partnership of over 250 organizations worldwide working across maternal, newborn and child health areas would like to stress the need for unprecedented attention and commitment from the world leaders to the plight of women and children in developing countries.
At half-way point for reaching the MDGs, we must ask why the vast majority of the countries most in need of improving child and maternal mortality rates have made little or no progress towards MDGs 4 and 5 to reduce child and maternal deaths? In particular, why the MDG 5 to reduce maternal mortality has seen the least progress of all the other targets? What are the clear commitments we can make at this High- Level Event so that the over 10 million children, including half a million mothers can finally get the world’s attention?
A report entitled Countdown to 2015: Tracking Progress in Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival released by global partners in April 2008 stated that despite plausible achievements in preventing childhood illness and mortality in many developing countries, overall access to comprehensive continuum of care for mothers, newborns and children are largely insufficient in majority of the 68 countries, where 97% of global mother and child deaths occur.
The report further stated that the health systems in most countries are weak and the workforce insufficient to reach the poorest communities, and when they reach, they deliver only some of the essential interventions, missing millions of life-saving opportunities. As a result, out of 68 priority countries only 16 were ‘on track’ to achieve the child survival MDG 4, and only 3 had low maternal mortality rates to make them fit to reach MDG 5.
Therefore, we the global partners, appeal to the world leaders to substantially increase real commitment and action to reach MDGs 4 & 5:
1. Political commitment and investment is ever-urgent for MDGs 4 and 5
Developing countries are missing around US$10.2 billion in additional investment every year to deliver maternal, newborn and child health services. If this investment was put in place, as many as 6 million children and mothers would be saved. We applaud the leaders such as the Presidents of Chile, Finland and Tanzania and the Prime Minister of Norway for taking up the cause and co-hosting a Special Side Event at this High-Level Meeting to renew commitments and pledges towards reaching the MDGs 4 & 5.
2. Reaching the poorest with effective interventions across the continuum of care is vital
Many countries demonstrated substantial achievements to reduce inequities in health of vulnerable populations. Affordable immunizations are reaching today around 80% of children in need preventing millions of child deaths. However, critical low rates of other interventions such as treatment of childhood diseases reach only around 40% of children in need, and skilled care for mothers reach only 47%.
3. Reaching the MDGs 4 & 5 means having functioning health systems in priority countries
We can ensure that no woman and or child will be left out of living a healthy life only if they have access to the full range of health interventions across the continuum of care provided by decent health clinics with health workers, and medical tools when needed. Therefore, to achieve the MDGs for child and maternal health, your commitments and action to build stronger health systems are essential.
Women and children all over the world are expecting us to meet our commitments. We have no doubt that our goals can be achieved. All that is needed is the will to do so.