Young child survival and development

New global Partnership seeks major reductions in maternal and child deaths

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UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman joined leading advocates for women and children to UNICEF’s global headquarters on Monday for the launch of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

By Rachel Bonham Carter

NEW YORK, 12 September 2005 – UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman today welcomed leading advocates for women and children to UNICEF’s global headquarters for the launch of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

The launch of the Partnership helps focus attention on issues critical to the health of women and children, at a time when leaders are gathering nearby for the World Summit at the United Nations.

The Partnership has been formed to accelerate progress in achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which call for major reductions in the rates of child and maternal deaths by 2015. Every year, over half a million women die in pregnancy, and 10.6 million children die before age 5.

"As world leaders gather in an historic meeting this week to take stock of progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, we are already aware that great challenges remain,” said Ms. Veneman as she opened the event. “With ten years in which to achieve the goals, we know that partnerships are more crucial than ever before.

“To accelerate progress, we need to integrate our efforts at the global, national and community level.”

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A mother and her baby in the maternity ward of the Charoenkrung Pracharak Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. The goal of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health is to help achieve major reductions in child and maternal death rates by 2015.

At the event

During the keynote address, Alpha Oumar Konaré, Chairperson of the African Union, said the lives of 7 million women and children could be saved every year by improving access to health care and by making more of existing low-cost interventions, such as promotion and support for exclusive breast-feeding, the prevention of malaria and early recognition of illness.

Nane Annan, wife of Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, spoke of the importance of this partnership for women and children, drawing on a recent trip with the Secretary-General to visit families caught up in the food crisis in Niger.

Speakers at the launch were introduced by broadcaster and former CNN news anchor Riz Kahn. Mr. Kahn also moderated a roundtable discussion with questions from the audience for the guests, who included: Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF; Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organisation; Omotayo R. Olaniyan, Acting Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations; Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI); and Allan Rosenfield, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.

Roundtable participants discussed issues facing the Partnership, such as the need for accountability and transparency.

Keys to success

“The partners must actually work together,” said Joy Phumaphi, when asked how the Partnership will succeed. “Harmonization must be realized. That is the first criteria. The second is the integration of what partners will be doing with governments at country level into existing health programmes which target maternal, neonatal and child health. The third is for all global funding mechanisms to integrate this harmonization and programme integration into what they are doing.”

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health will be run along the same lines as GAVI. The latter is a public-private partnership launched in 2000 to address health issues that cannot be resolved by individual organizations acting independently.

The success of the GAVI mission was underscored today with the announcement that 1 million child deaths have been averted. GAVI also announced that 78 million children in the world’s poorest countries have been immunized with under-used vaccines like those for hepatitis B and yellow fever. 

“If people don’t survive, nothing else counts,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam at the launch. He said the Partnership “is really the foundation of all the Millennium Goals which must be achieved in the next ten years.”


 

 

Video

12 September 2005:
UNICEF correspondent Rachel Bonham Carter reports on the launch of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, at UNICEF headquarters in New York.

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