Maternal, Child Health Lag Behind Other Millennium Development Goals, Study Finds

Despite signs of progress in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and childhood diseases, efforts to reduce maternal and newborn health as part of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) lag behind, according to the 2009 Report of the Global Campaign for the Health Millennium Development Goals released Monday, Inter Press Service reports.  

The study “highlights practical ways to ‘reduce the continuing and unnecessary death toll in developing countries,'” including : “increased political mobilisation; adequate financing and effective delivery; streamlined and harmonised aid operations; free services for women and children at the point of use and the removal of access barriers; skilled and motivated health workers at the right place at the right time; and accountability for results with robust monitoring and evaluation,” according to IPS.

To implement these changes, the study “calls for scaling up health services to the tune of 36-45 billion dollars by 2015, over and above the current spending (and cumulatively about 114-251 billion dollars from 2009 to 2015)” – a gap the authors of the report hope can be closed during the G8 meeting in July, IPS writes (Deen, IPS, 6/15).

“Women and children are facing even graver health threats because of the global economic downturn. Even before the crisis, women made up 60 percent of the world’s poor, and maternal mortality was the worst health inequity in the world,” U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said during a luncheon ceremony to release the report. “Your influence, your individual passion and your institutional commitment can help us succeed. Together, we can achieve a long-overdue breakthrough for women and children in the developing world. The consensus outlined in this report provides a clear way forward” (ISRIA, 6/15).

“We welcome this report’s timely emphasis on the need to increase investments in women’s health despite the current economic crisis,” Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the UNFPA, said. Obaid added that an investment in the health of women and girls worldwide does not only improve lives, but can generate economic growth as well.

“If we balk now in our efforts to achieve the health MDGs, we will put our present and future generations at risk,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “But if we rise to the challenge, we can set the world on course for long-term prosperity and stability” (IPS, 6/15).

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