Canadian PM, Tanzanian President Open Meeting To Develop Framework For $40B Maternal And Child Health Initiative

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete were in Geneva on Wednesday to open a meeting aimed at “developing a framework” to monitor the implementation of a $40 billion U.N. maternal and child health initiative, according to CBC News. Harper and Kikwete are co-chairs of a commission that is charged with ensuring accountability for the pledges.

“Improvements to the health, education and living conditions of millions of women and children will mean a wave of hope that will ripple through the developing world,” Harper said. He also focused on careful spending. “We understand that we must strive to build support not just for our noble objectives, but also for our commitment to the highest standards of oversight and accountability for the dollars that we are dedicating to them,” he said (1/26).

“This wind of change won’t be able to materialize unless we give oversight and accountability the same attention – without precedent – that we dedicate to women and children’s health,” Harper said at the meeting, which is being attended by “foreign ministers, civil society groups and developing agencies,” according to the Toronto Sun. “Harper praised international efforts to beef up funding on maternal and children’s health and suggested the launch of the commission on information and accountability would be instrumental in ensuring ‘pledges are honoured, money is spent wisely, and desired results achieved,'” the news service writes.  

Kikwete said the U.N. Millennium Development Goal targets focused on maternal and child health are “lagging far behind” the other goals. “The situation is worse in sub-Sahara Africa, and the fear is most African countries will not be able to achieve the 2015 targets,” he said. “Africa, with about 12% of the world’s population, accounts for 50% of the global maternal deaths and 49% of the deaths of children under five,” according to Kikwete (Raj, 1/26). 

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