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Canada’s G8 Summit Legacy

Paving the way for women and children with a landmark $1.1 billion pledge

“Canada's investment in maternal, newborn and child health has the potential to immediately reduce mortality, but more is needed by the international community. The next step is to ensure that the G8 commitments are fulfilled and that much more money gets put on the table in the months and years ahead. The lives of millions of mothers and children depend on it.”

Meg French, Director of International Programmes, UNICEF Canada, June 25, 2010

On June 25 and 26, 2010, the world’s most powerful leaders gathered in Canada for the G8 summit to make decisions that will affect the future of the world’s children. Canada's decision to commit $1.1 billion in new funds toward maternal, newborn and child health is a positive step that could save millions of lives. But more support is needed from the international community and we encourage all leaders to continue to make maternal, newborn and child health a priority.

Maternal, Newborn and Child Health: The Issues

At the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, government leaders came together and committed themselves to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): a set of time bound objectives aimed at reducing extreme poverty by 2015.  Although we have seen progress on several of the MDGs, of all of these goals, MDG 4, to reduce child mortality, and MDG 5, to improve maternal health, are the most seriously off course.  We are only 9% of the way towards improving maternal health and 32% of the way towards achieving our goal of reducing child mortality.

• Each year, more than half a million women die from pregnancy-related causes - an astounding 1500 mothers die each day during pregnancy or because of complications during labour. 

• Annually, 8.8 million children die before they turn five years old. Most of these children die from diseases or a combination of disease and malnutrition that could easily have been prevented or treated.

Thankfully, inexpensive, cost-effective, proven health interventions have had, and continue to have, impact.  Since 1990, the global under-five mortality rate has been cut in half. While we do still have much progress yet to make, we know what works when it comes to saving children – and also their mothers.

In 2009, UNICEF Canada, World Vision Canada, Plan Canada, Save the Children Canada, Results Canada and CARE Canada came together to explore the specific opportunity of the 2010 G8 Summit, to be hosted by Canada. Based on knowledge from collective programming experience and a review of the most recent best practices, the partnership produced a set of actions in order to break through obstacles and catalyze progress on Millennium Development Goals four and five.

An Opportunity for Canada to Lead on Preventing the Deaths of Women and Children

In 2007 Canada led the multilateral Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives (CI). The CI builds on the successes and lessons learnt from an earlier project that aimed to deliver an integrated package of high-impact low-cost health interventions to save the lives of mothers, newborns and children. The principles of the model are sound and widely supported by Canadian maternal and child focused organizations.  Canada's commitment of $1.1 billion towards the G8 Muskoka Initiative is an opportunity to build upon the Catalytic Initiative and the international Partnership Consensus for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health to lead on the implementation of a global initiative to bring millions more children to their fifth birthday, while saving the lives of their mothers.

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The G8 Summit

Investing in maternal, newborn and child health

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Conflict and maternal health in Afghanistan
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The Catalytic Initiative

The Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives (CI) is a multi-donor initiative to support country health systems in order to accelerate progress towards MDGs 4 & 5. The overall goal of the CI is to reduce maternal, neonatal and child mortality, by ensuring families have access to essential life-saving health interventions in the communities where they live.

The Government of Canada has been a lead donor on this initiative. To learn more about Canada's investment in the Catalytic Initiative click here.