Global Health and Diplomacy (GHD): At the Muskoka G8 Summit in 2010, Prime Minister Harper said "Canada has far and away the strongest financial position, fiscal position, of any country that's sitting around that table today. [Maternal and child health] has been our flagship initiative for this particular conference. So, I thought it was more than appropriate that Canada lead with a disproportionate contribution." Do you believe the Canadian public supports this initiative? What support has Canada received from other global partners since the meeting in Muskoka?
The health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have enormous potential in accelerating progress across all the MDGs. While achievements in some areas have been promising, great effort is still necessary to reach all targets. Public-privatesector collaboration can play a catalytic role. The "Every Woman Every Child" effort and the MDG Advocacy Group, both developed under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, are illustrative examples of such collaboration.
In September 2009, a year before the Arab Spring started, I brought forth the issue of youth unemployment in Africa at the UN General Assembly. At the time, African youth made up 37 percent of the working age population in Africa and an overwhelming 60 percent of the unemployed. Indeed, youth unemployment still poses a grave security threat to many countries in Africa. With many African countries undergoing rapid development, the ability to create jobs to match the pace of development is important to ensure that peace is sustained. Moreover, it is especially important to instill a sense of hope, among the youth, for their future so that they can help to reinforce this stability and continue the cycle of growth. In my country, Tanzania, the most recent figure indicates that approximately 8.8 percent of youth are unemployed. Although the figure may not seem very high, the youth comprises a large portion of the Tanzanian population, therefore, it is vital that their educational and vocational needs are met.
On May 7th, 2009, the African Union launched the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality (CARMMA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The campaign was launched under the theme, 'Africa Cares: No Woman Should Die While Giving Life.'
As the United Nations family prepares for the final push toward the 2015 deadline for the review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), I am glad to report that my country, Uganda, has made real progress, not only in changing health indicators, but also in laying the groundwork for change in the future. As we look toward 2015, I hope that Uganda will benefit from the experiences of other countries and that our experience will, in turn, provide critical lessons for other parts of Africa and around the world.
The visibility of maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) on the global agenda has skyrocketed in recent years. The exponential rise in prominence of MNCH and the concept of the continuum of care can be traced to major health diplomacy and coalition-building efforts beginning around 2005. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) was created in 2005 as the result of a marriage between the Safe Motherhood Initiative, Healthy Newborn Partnership and Child Survival Partnership. Since its inception as the global platform for aligning and harmonizing efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, aimed at reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, respectively, the PMNCH has played a crucial role in fostering collaboration across all major constituencies and raising the profile of MNCH on a national, regional and global scale.
While significant progress has been made in reducing child mortality over the past 50 years, it is recognized that the progress is not equitable. In rich and poor countries alike, the poorest and most disadvantaged children and mothers continue to miss out on life-saving interventions.
The next 1,000 days are critical. The achievement of Millennium Development Goals 3 through 6 (promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDs, malaria, TB and other diseases,) and 8 (develop a global partnership for development) will require intensified efforts at all levels. This includes increased political will at the international and national levels as well as an acknowledgment of the important role played by individuals themselves at the district, community and household levels.
For millions of parents in the developing world, waking up in the middle of the night to find that one of their children is ill with a life-threatening fever is a common reality. I have witnessed these parents’ struggle as they carry their children by foot to the nearest health center (which often can be one or two days away) only to find that they cannot afford the treatment.
Three years ago, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) launched a unique pilot program in several countries in Africa. Last summer, I traveled to Cameroon with the global health organization PSI–to see the program firsthand.
Many surveys tell us that more than half a million women die every year from complications due to childbirth and pregnancy. The greatest concern is that a large portion of these deaths are found in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The dominance of these unfortunate and unnecessary deaths being in SSA implies that health care systems in Africa must share a large number of characteristics that predispose them to allow such high maternal mortality.