Canada To ‘Champion’ Major G8 Initiative To Tackle Maternal, Child Mortality

As president of the G8 in 2010, “Canada will champion a new G8 identity focused on ending child mortality and other health woes in poorer countries when it hosts the club of industrialized nations in June, the government said Tuesday,” Agence France-Presse reports. A spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper explained Tuesday that Harper will use his keynote address at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, to provide more details about the new G8 agenda, according to AFP (1/26). 

“Each year, it is estimated that 500,000 women lose their lives during pregnancy or childbirth. Further, an astonishing 9 million children die before their fifth birthday,” Harper writes in a Toronto Star opinion piece in which he calls for the world’s leaders to tackle child and maternal mortality in developing countries. Harper continues, “As its contribution to this G8 initiative, Canada will look to mobilize G8 governments and non-governmental organizations as well as private foundations” (1/26).

UNICEF Canada has recommended that the Canadian government commit $2 billion, or $400 million over the next five years, to improve maternal and child health in developing countries, the Canadian Press reports, adding that Canada has not announced how much it will allocate. UNICEF Canada President Nigel “Fisher said Canada can build on established programs in which an integrated approach and ‘low cost interventions’ target some basic diseases ‘which kill kids.’ This involves training community health workers in poor countries to simply check for a series of health problems – diarrhea, poor nutrition, lack of vaccines – when a sick child is brought to a clinic,” the Canadian Press writes (Blanchfield, 1/26).

In order to improve child and maternal mortality global health advocates are recommending the government consider ways to assist developing countries in dealing with climate change and the economic crisis, Canwest News Service reports (De Souza, 1/26).

Ahead of the World Economic Forum, Reuters examines the economic opportunities and challenges for investors in Africa. “Africa for the investor is … a story of boom and bust, where famine and disease are punctuated by coups and civil wars,” the news service writes. However, “the International Monetary Fund believes growth in sub-Saharan Africa will be 1 percentage point above the global average, and puts eight African countries in its top 20 fastest-expanding economies in 2010” (Cropley/Hirschler, 1/26).

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