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UNICEF: Canada’s G8 focus on maternal and child health will help global efforts

NEW YORK, 29 January 2010 – This week’s announcement by Canada that it will make maternal and child health a priority when it hosts the G8 summit in June will further help put the global spotlight on such important issues, UNICEF said today.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that his country would champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions.

He said that members of the G8 could make a difference in maternal and child health and that Canada would be making this the top priority in June. The Prime Minister suggested that the solutions are within reach for the international community and include better nutrition, clean water, inoculations, and training of health workers.

With only 5 years left to achieve the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), successes have been achieved but much more needs to be done, particularly with MDG 5, which targets maternal health and which lags furthest behind of all the eight MDG targets. 

MDG 4 aims for a reduction by two thirds in the under-five mortality rate, while MDG 5 targets a three quarters reduction in the maternal mortality ratio. Since 1990, the number of estimated annual global maternal deaths has remained around 500,000, while the absolute number of child deaths in 2008 declined to an estimated 8.8 million from 12.5 million in 1990, the base line year for the MDGs.

The delivery of basic, inexpensive health and nutrition services can have a significant impact on the lives of mothers, newborns and children, particularly when a continuum of care is ensured by delivering essential care at critical points in the life cycle and at key locations.

The Health 4 (H4) represents an intensified joint effort by four international agencies, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank, to support countries in improving maternal and newborn health and saving the lives of mothers and babies.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For additional information, please contact:
Brian Hansford, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7269,
E-mail: bhansford@unicef.org




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