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A Week to Save Moms and Their Kids

2010-05-03

OTTAWA, May 4, 2010 - International aid organizations and health professional associations gathered on Parliament Hill today to call for all-party support to help save the lives of the hundreds of thousands of mothers and nearly 9 million children who die every year from preventable deaths. This event kicks off a week of activities to raise awareness about the issue of maternal, newborn and child survival around the globe.

Mother's Day baskets were presented to MPs including The Honourable Bev Oda, Minister for International Cooperation, The Honourable Bob Rae, Liberal critic for Foreign Affairs, Madame Johanne Deschamps, Porte-parole du Bloc Quebecois en matiere de cooperation internationale, Mr. John Rafferty, New Democratic Party critic for International Cooperation and CIDA. Included were chocolates and flowers, things a Canadian mother can expect on Mother's Day. Also in the baskets were home birthing kits and nutritional supplementation, things a mother in Afghanistan or sub-Saharan Africa needs to live and to keep her child alive.

"This Sunday, Canadians are going to honour their mothers by giving them flowers, chocolates and cards. But for the mothers of the 8.8 million children who die every year—the greatest gift we could give them would be some simple tools to help them see their children grow and flourish—tools like immunizations, clean water and skilled help during childbirth and with breastfeeding," said Elly Vandenberg, World Vision's Ottawa Bureau Director.

MPs also received a copy of Save the Children's 2010 State of the World's Mothers Report. The Mothers' Index ranks the best and worst places to be a mother among 160 countries. "The State of the Worlds Mothers and the state of their children is, not surprisingly, greatly determined by their income and where they live. Every year Millions of children and hundreds of thousands of women are dying from preventable causes," said David Morley, Save the Children Canada. "We need all-party support for a Canadian G8 Maternal Newborn Child Health initiative if we are to finally and permanently reduce maternal and child mortality around the world."

A number of Maternal Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) organizations participated in today's event and welcomed the findings of the State of the World's Mothers Report, including Plan Canada, UNICEF Canada, Care Canada, Results Canada, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, the Canadian Association of Midwives and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and World Vision.

Additional Events/Activities:

On Saturday, May 8, CARE Canada invites families in Ottawa and Gatineau to come out for the first ever March for Moms Stroller Walk to celebrate moms around the world and raise awareness about maternal health. The walk will depart from the lawn of the Canadian War Museum at Booth Street and the Riverside Parkway at 10:30 a.m. and proceed up Wellington Street to Parliament Hill. At the Hill participants will have a chance to sign Mother's Day cards addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper supporting the G8 agenda on maternal, newborn and child health. "This is a time to celebrate mothers, and to empower mothers and children everywhere to have long and healthy lives," said Kevin McCort, President and CEO of CARE Canada.

In the week leading up to Mothers Day (May 9), a coalition of US and Canadian MNCH advocates will also be mobilizing people online. At www.momsrule.org Canadians will have the chance to send a free Mother's Day e-card to their mom or a special mom they know and upload a picture and share a story. They will also have the opportunity to email Prime Minister Harper in support of the G8 MNCH pledge and to encourage the Canadian government to commit substantial new and long-term funding to this initiative. US citizens will be able to send a similar message to President Obama.

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.