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Canadian Coalition Commends Government on G8 Focus That Could Save Millions of Lives

2010-01-31

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, 26 January, 2010 - The Prime Minister's decision to put the well-being of mothers and children at the top of the G8 agenda is a positive step that could save the lives of millions, according to a coalition of leading development organizations that have united to form the Canadian Coalition for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (CCMNCH).

"In too many places around the world, pregnancy and childbirth are a death sentence - 500,000 women die each year due to pregnancy and delivery-related complications," says Coalition representative and CEO of World Vision Dave Toycen. "At the same time, 8.8 million children die annually before reaching their fifth birthday - it's just unacceptable. We are very pleased with the Prime Minister's intentions and look forward to helping shape this initiative with the government."

The coalition, comprised of seven Canadian organizations, including leading international development, human rights and grassroots citizens' organizations, came together in the lead-up to the Huntsville Summit to highlight the global emergency of millions of mothers and their children dying due to mainly preventable and treatable illnesses.

"By prioritizing the health of millions of the world's poorest mothers and children, Canada is recognizing the need for urgent action to address this silent emergency," said Plan International CEO Rosemary McCarney.

The CCMNCH is calling for Canada to cement its leadership by making a significant Canadian investment in an expanded Catalytic Initiative to Save a Million Lives (CI). In 2007, Canada invested $105 million over five years in the CI, a multilateral initiative that bundles proven health interventions, strengthens health systems, and saves lives. An expanded CI model could save the lives of over 60 per cent of the 8.8 million children that die annually from preventable causes and could also reduce maternal mortality.

"As a coalition we have come together, for the first time, behind this proposal to put mothers and children first because we know that Canadian leadership can have, and has had, tremendous impact," said UNICEF CEO Nigel Fisher. "Today the Prime Minister paved the way for the 2010 G8 to be a landmark summit for women and children."

The Canadian Coalition for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health consists of seven Canadian non-government organizations, including: Action Canada for Population Development, CARE Canada, Plan Canada, RESULTS Canada, Save the Children Canada, World Vision Canada and UNICEF Canada.


UNICEF: Canada’s G8 focus on maternal and child health will help global efforts

TORONTO, 1 February 2010 – Last week’s announcement by Canada that it will make maternal and child health a priority when it hosts the G8 summit in June will further help put the global spotlight on such important issues, UNICEF said.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that his country would champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions.

He said that members of the G8 could make a difference in maternal and child health and that Canada would be making this the top priority in June. The Prime Minister suggested that the solutions are within reach for the international community and include better nutrition, clean water, inoculations, and training of health workers.

With only 5 years left to achieve the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), successes have been achieved but much more needs to be done, particularly with MDG 5, which targets maternal health and which lags furthest behind of all the eight MDG targets. 

MDG 4 aims for a reduction by two thirds in the under-five mortality rate, while MDG 5 targets a three quarters reduction in the maternal mortality ratio. Since 1990, the number of estimated annual global maternal deaths has remained around 500,000, while the absolute number of child deaths in 2008 declined to an estimated 8.8 million from 12.5 million in 1990, the base line year for the MDGs.

The delivery of basic, inexpensive health and nutrition services can have a significant impact on the lives of mothers, newborns and children, particularly when a continuum of care is ensured by delivering essential care at critical points in the life cycle and at key locations.

The Health 4 (H4) represents an intensified joint effort by four international agencies, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank, to support countries in improving maternal and newborn health and saving the lives of mothers and babies.

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 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.