Save the Children Canada

Save the Children Canada

June 24, 2010 11:21 ET

Save the Children Says G-8 Leaders Have Unique Chance to Save Mothers' and Children's Lives

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 24, 2010) - World leaders gathering Friday and Saturday at the G-8 summit in Muskoka, Canada should seize a unique chance to dramatically reduce child and maternal deaths around the world, Save the Children said.

"This is the first time G-8 leaders will discuss a maternal and child health initiative and the stakes are incredibly high," said David Morley, CEO of Save the Children Canada. "If these leaders back good intentions with strong commitments and new resources, the G-8 will show genuine leadership and can prevent millions of newborn, child, and maternal deaths."

Every year, nearly 9 million children under age 5 die from causes such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and complications at birth and 350,000 mothers who are lost to complications related to pregnancy and birth. Access to basic preventive health care, inexpensive treatment, and skilled attendance at birth could save most of these lives.

According to Morley: "While the economy is clearly the current focus of G8 leaders, they must understand that without strong action on maternal and child health, global economic growth won't be balanced and the social costs of global economic downturns will be deeper and longer lasting."

Save the Children calls on G-8 leaders to:

  • double their maternal and child health bilateral commitments to reach a collective total of $4 billion a year. Annually, that investment could save more than an additional 1 million children and 200,000 mothers in the developing world, where 99 percent of the child deaths occur.
  • support developing countries that have credible national plans to support maternal and child health and strengthen health systems.
  • help fund the training of frontline workers like midwives and community health care workers, who represent one of the soundest investments in lifesaving care. The developing world needs an estimated 4.3 additional health care workers to achieve the health-related U.N. Millennium Development Goals, which include dramatic reductions in child and maternal mortality.
  • focus on equity by emphasizing the importance of tackling the obstacles faced by the poorest and most structurally disadvantaged populations. These include malnutrition, the underlying cause of one third of child deaths.
  • address barriers to progress in poor countries with the least progress on reducing child and maternal mortality.
  • establish a robust accountability framework to ensure both developing country governments and donors adhere to their commitments.

"If G-8 leaders step up on maternal and child health, they will save lives and can motivate the whole world to make ending preventable maternal and child deaths a priority," Morley said. "When G-20 leaders gather in Toronto immediately following the G-8 summit, they must recognize that along with their enhanced economic wealth and leadership comes new responsibility for promoting development."

The Canadian summits will then set the stage for the Millennium Development Goals summit at the United Nations in September. Of the eight goals adopted in 2000, those related to child and maternal health have progressed the least.

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