Women Deliver Conference Launches New Commitments

Sunday, October 21, 2007 General News
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LONDON, Oct. 20 Strong new pledges ofcommitment to invest in women's health came from donors, government officials,corporations, foundations and non-governmental organizations today at closingsessions of the landmark Women Deliver conference, which sought to mobilizepolitical will and investment to reduce pregnancy-related deaths anddisabilities worldwide.

More than 1,800 participants from 109 countries cheered a final statementfrom the 70 cabinet ministers and parliamentarians present, who pledged tomake achievement of Millennium Development Goal #5 (improve maternal health)"a high priority on the national, regional and international health agenda."

The ministers and parliamentarians also pledged to be advocates in theirhome countries for "increased commitment of financial and human resources"against maternal mortality and to accelerate the expansion of services formaternal and newborn health.

"We are making a promise to the women of the world," said Ann Starrs,executive vice president of Family Care International,(http://www.familycareintl.org), the conference organizing partner, at theclosing plenary session. "We recognize your contributions and value yourlives. We will not allow this injustice and waste to continue. We willdeliver."

Echoing that sentiment was Rep. Lois Capps, member of the U.S. House ofRepresentatives from California and head of the five-member U.S. congressionaldelegation. "We may have dragged our feet a bit in the U.S., but we are goingto hold hearings and we're going to create a workable strategy on behalf ofwomen," she said. "We're going to make sure that the U.S. participates in aglobal effort to deliver for women around the world."

The three-day conference included a grant announcement of more than US$200million from the United Kingdom to UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund,to advance women's reproductive health worldwide; a US$11 million investmentby the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in distributing newtechnology against blood loss after childbirth in Nigeria and India; and acommitment from Japan to put global health at the centre of the Group of Eightsummit meeting in Japan next year.

Pledges of further action also came from the David & Lucile PackardFoundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International LabourOrganisation, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, Exxon/Mobil, andGlaxoSmithKline.

Advocates for women's health should seek to work both within governmentsand as non-governmental organization activists, said Dr. Helene Gayle,president of CARE. "We need people both on the inside and the outside tofigure out how to work together to get these things to happen," she said."NGOs can't do it by themselves."

Earlier commitments to the goals of Women Deliver included pledges of US$1billion from Norway for the Global Campaign for the Health MDGs,(http://www.norad.no) an initiative to secure achievement of the MDGs toimprove child health and reduce disease, as well as the maternal health goal.The Netherlands pledged 125 million Euros (about US$178 million) for genderequality and maternal health, and Denmark pledged 110 million kroner (US$21million) for HIV/AIDS and reproductive health.

"Increased and dependable financing would make a big difference in savingthe half a million mothers who die each year in pregnancy or when givingbirth," said Morten Wetland, secretary of state for Norway's Prime MinisterJens Stoltenberg.

"All national, regional and international leaders must recognize that theachievement of the MDGs as a whole, and improvement of health systems morebroadly, depend largely on achieving MDGs 4 and 5," the ministers' statementsaid.

SOURCE Women Deliver

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