Health

United Nations Commission lays out plan to improve access to life-saving health supplies for women and children

By Anja Baron

NEW YORK, United States of America, 26 September 2012 - Members of the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children today submitted a new plan and set of recommendations seeking to increase the supply of, and access to, life-saving and affordable medicines and health supplies for the world’s most vulnerable women and children.

UNICEF correspondent Anja Baron reports on a set of recommendations put forth by the Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children to improve child and maternal health.  Watch in RealPlayer

 

The Commission, which is part of the Every Woman Every Child movement, was formed to support the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. It is co-chaired by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.

Since the Commission’s inception, remarkable progress has been made in bringing new attention and investment to some of the more neglected causes of women’s and children’s mortality, including, most recently, preterm birth and lack of access to contraceptives.

A clear set of recommendations

Every year, 287,000 women die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. To address causes of death during pregnancy, childbirth and into childhood effectively, the Commission examined 13 life-saving medicines and health supplies, focusing on 50 countries with high mortality rates among women, newborns and children under 5.

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© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-1206/Markisz
(Left) 42nd President of the United States of America Bill Clinton speaks at a press gathering following the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities panel. Prime Minister of Norway and co-chair of the Commission Jens Stoltenberg is beside him.

In its report, the Commission set forth a clear set of recommendations, including improving access to simple medicines such as: antibiotics to treat pneumonia; zinc and oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhoea; and oxytocin to stop mothers from bleeding after childbirth. Other recommendations include bulk buying to reduce cost, access to family planning and contraceptives and access to mobile technology.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway said, “In spite of promising decline in maternal and child mortality with around 40 percent since 1990, the fact that the day a woman gives birth is still the most dangerous day in her and her child’s life is unacceptable.”  But he is optimistic: “The beauty of the report we are launching today is that it is so very, very concrete…We already have been able to mobilize the financial funds, so now we actually are starting to implement the recommendations.”

A watershed moment

Delivering remarks in support of the Commission’s work, 42nd President of the United States of America and founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation Bill Clinton explained why he thought the report was “a watershed moment”.

UNICEF reports on the activities of the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, which is part of the United Nations Secretary-General's Every Woman Every Child movement.

 

“This will save a lot of women’s lives. It will save a lot of children’s lives,” he said. “Giving women this choice to long-acting reversible contraceptives is really important. It just hasn’t been affordable before…They allow women, they allow families to have more control over their lives and to lead healthier, fuller lives.”

With its report, the Commission hopes not only to tackle treatable diseases but also to help prevent 33 million unwanted pregnancies, protect 120 million children from pneumonia and save a total of 16 million lives by 2015.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said,  “It is simply wrong that millions of children and women still die every year when we have the products and the knowledge to save their lives…With the Commission’s help, we have still more practical solutions. What is needed now is the political will to implement them.”


 

 

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