16 nations announced their new commitments to dramatically bring down the maternal, newborn and child mortality. U.N. Secretary General Ban ki Moon has welcomed this announcement.
The initiative is a part of the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health. The commitments, made with the support of UNAIDS, UNFPA UNICEF, the World Bank and WHO (collectively known as the H4+ agencies), focus on measures proven effective in preventing deaths, such as increased contraceptive use, attended childbirth, improved access to emergency obstetric care, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, and childhood immunizations.
"Political and financial support for action on women's and children's health is reaching new and encouraging heights. The commitments build on the momentum of recent months, and prove that saving the lives of the most vulnerable can attract support at the highest levels," said Moon.
The U.N. Secretary-General is leading the Every Woman Every Child campaign to accelerate progress on Millennium Development Goals number four (child mortality) and number five (maternal health).
New commitments were announced by Burundi, Chad, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Guinea, Kyrgyzstan, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Tajikistan, Togo, and Viet Nam.
"The commitments by countries today demonstrate that we are on the verge of a tipping point," says Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of UNFPA.
Every year, 358,000 women in the developing world aged 15-49 die of pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Every year, 2.6 million children are stillborn, and a further 8.1 million die before their fifth birthday, including 3.3 million babies in the first month of life.
"'The Global Strategy is an unprecedented opportunity to help the women and children who need it most. The commitments made by Members States, donors and other partners are an impressive signal that we collectively take responsibility to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals and save more women's and children's lives," said World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan.
As part of the Global Strategy, the Commission for Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health also released new recommendations today, including to ensure that future commitments are spent as most needed.
The Global Strategy was launched in September 2010 to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality in developing countries, with 40 billion dollars in commitments.