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Statement by UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, welcoming the G8 Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Under-Five Child Health

NEW YORK, 25 June 2010 – “UNICEF welcomes the commitment by G8 countries to accelerate efforts to improve maternal and child health by endorsing the Muskoka Initiative launched today at the G8 Summit in Canada.

“Despite significant success over the last 20 years in reducing the number of children under five who die from preventable causes, far too many newborns and their mothers are still dying every day.  It is unacceptable that in some of the world’s most disadvantaged places, maternal and neonatal mortality rates may even be increasing.
“Saving women’s lives is an important factor in saving children’s lives, just as improving women’s status in the world may well be the single most important factor in reducing global poverty. 

“UNICEF strongly supports the Muskoka Initiative’s emphasis on strengthening health systems to improve maternal and child health. Prenatal care, skilled birth attendants, early and exclusive breast feeding, better primary medical care – these are key interventions we know can prevent the causes of most  neonatal  and many maternal deaths. To make a sustainable difference, we also need to work together to scale up integrated, community-based services that can save many child lives and are not only cost-effective, but also well designed to reach those in greatest need. 

“Today, the G8 countries have renewed their commitment to maternal and child health, and we must all hold ourselves accountable for achieving greater progress on this critical challenge.”

For further information, please contact:

Brian Hansford, UNICEF Media, New York, Tel +1 212 326 7269,



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