U.N. Commission To Establish Benchmarks For $40B Maternal, Child Health Initiative Commitments

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will travel to Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday to co-chair a commission that aims to establish benchmarks for the U.N.’s $40 billion maternal and child health initiative that was establish at last year’s Millennium Development Goal summit, the Canadian Press/Toronto Star reports (1/23).

Dimitri Soudas, the prime minister’s spokesman, said Harper’s goal is to ensure that countries actually deliver on their pledges and that the money is spent responsibly. “His main objective is accountability and delivery of commitments,” Soudas said, Postmedia News/National Post reports. “The important thing here is delivering results. The end objective is to save the lives of mothers and children,” he added.

In December, the U.N. appointed Harper and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete “to lead the ‘Information and accountability’ commission. Its job is to establish a ‘framework’ by May to help countries improve the way they collect and share information about the state of women’s and children’s health, and also to track how the money is spent,” the news service writes (Kennedy, 1/21).