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Time to Measure Success in Lives Saved, Not Political Points Scored: Development Leaders Say

2010-04-26

TORONTO, April 27, 2010 - Every year nine million women around the world watch as their children die from painful, preventable illnesses that often cost dimes, not dollars, to treat. Hundreds of thousands more women die in childbirth because they lack access to dependable health care close to home.

For groups like ours, who are working to make a difference in the lives of these millions of women and children, the upcoming G8 in Canada provides an historic opportunity to chart a course out of this desperate terrain.

And yet, instead of pushing forward in support of an initiative that could benefit millions, we're allowing the potential for hope and opportunity to be swallowed up by a political debate about abortion that is stifling the potential for progress.

We know from recent polls that abortion is a sensitive issue for Canadians and debating abortion in the context of this initiative will not resolve the domestic debate. Rather, it will stall or table an initiative that has enormous potential to save the lives of millions of mothers and children from some of the major causes of death.

With an investment at the community level, where women and children are best able to access health care, the G8 initiative can prevent the deaths and improve the health of millions of children and women. Providing families with access to proven low cost health interventions can ensure healthier pregnancies and prevent illness and death from such diseases as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. Additionally, providing education and access to family planning, including contraception, will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.

One thing is certain, if lack of agreement on one issue forces the G8 to delay a decision on this maternal and child health initiative, another 8.8 million children and over 300,000 mothers will die waiting. We cannot allow these lives to slip away while we take up a debate on abortion here in Canada.

It's time to focus on the hope and opportunity that this G8 Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health presents and end the suffering of millions of families around the world. It's time to commit significant and new investments to meet this need. It's time to measure success in lives saved, not political points scored.

- CEOs of CARE Canada, Plan Canada, RESULTS Canada, Save the Children Canada, UNICEF Canada, World Vision Canada.

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.