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31 October 2012: Zambia hosts H4+ annual meeting

© UNICEF Zambia/2012/Maseko
UN Resident Coordinator, Kanni Wignaraja speaking during the opening ceremony of the H4+ meeting

Experts meet in Zambia to discuss maternal, newborn, and child health

Annual meeting of the H4+/Canadian International Development Agency Collaboration Aims to Accelerate Progress in Key African Countries

LUSAKA, Zambia, 31 October 2012 (United Nations) – Technical specialists from six African countries met here this week at the H4+/Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Annual Meeting on Accelerating Progress on Maternal and Newborn Health.

The H4+ is a joint effort by United Nations and related agencies and programmes: UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, WHO, and the World Bank.

Building on the collective strengths of each of the six UN and related agencies and programmes, the H4+ partnership is aligned with country priorities and national health plans to improve the health of women and children. It aims to accelerate progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 (reducing child mortality) and 5 (improving maternal health) by 2015, in line with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, “Every Woman, Every Child.”

“This week’s technical meeting involving Country Teams of Government and UN officials from six H4+ countries, donors and other technical partners, is serving as a forum to strengthen strategies for scaling up access to quality reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health care and to life-saving medicines and supplies, especially in rural and hard-to-reach areas,” said Dr. Iyorlumun J. Uhaa, UNICEF Zambia’s Representative. “It’s a critical step to help reach the MDGs with equity.”

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is supporting the H4+ to scale up health services in countries with high maternal and newborn mortality through the strengthening of health systems, with an ultimate goal of eliminating avoidable maternal mortality. The initiative emphasizes family planning, essential and emergency obstetric and neonatal health services, human resources, community participation, communication and information.

© UNICEF Zambia/2012/Maseko
H4+ participants at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Lusaka

Canada’s support through the H4+ includes six countries in the African region: Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  The annual meeting, took place from 29 October – 3 November, convened to review and evaluate progress made in these countries, and plan activities for the next two years.

“It is almost one year since this team last met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and the progress you have made since then is impressive. From these working sessions just held in Lusaka, the concluding next steps you have pointed to are clear,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia Kanni Wignaraja. ”First, to support your respective Governments to integrate HIV, family planning, maternal health, and child survival as a comprehensive health package – it’s likely we won’t reach MDGs four and five unless we can achieve this. Second, to strengthen your monitoring and evaluation frameworks – I am pleased that as a result of your dialogues each of the five H4+ country teams have developed a robust M&E framework ready for implementation on your return home.
“And third, to be pragmatic and practical in the prioritizing of the next set of achievable results. In a world of limited availability of resources, we can do no less,” said Wignaraja, who also serves as Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Zambia.

In Sierra Leone, CIDA funds are helping to increase the number of women that have access to skilled providers at delivery. CIDA’s support is also enhancing access of mothers and their newborns to post-natal care check-ups during the first 24-48 hours after delivery.

In Zambia, the partnership has contributed to the completion of a scale-up plan for mobile phone technology to remind pregnant women to seek follow-up services through community workers.

“We have seen many successful programmes jointly undertaken through collaboration between the UN and CIDA to improve health in developing countries such as ours,” said Dr. Olusegun Babaniyi, WHO Country Representative in Zambia. “I have every confidence that this joint collaboration will continue to be successful.”



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