UN launches global strategy to save over 16 million women and children

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UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday launched a massive drive to save the lives of over 16 million women and children, with more than 40 billion dollars already committed to scale up health services worldwide.

"The 21st century must be and will be different for every woman and every child," said Ban, who launched the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health at the UN Headquarters on the margins of a high-level summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit at the UN headquarters in New York, on Sept. 20, 2010. The UN MDG summit opened on Monday. [Xinhua]

The MDGs, a series of globally agreed social and economic targets with a 2015 deadline, include a number of health objectives, such as Goal 4 on reducing the mortality rate for children under the age of five by two thirds and Goal 5 on slashing maternal mortality rates by three quarters, both from their 1990 figures.

Wednesday's launch, which included the private sector, foundations, international organizations, civil society and research groups, represents a major step toward filling the gap between the investment needed and what is currently provided for women's and children's health -- with over 40 billion in resources committed over the next five years.

"We know what works to save women's and children's lives, and we know that women and children are critical to all of the MDGs," the secretary-general said. "Today we are witnessing the kind of leadership we have long needed."

The Global Strategy identifies the finance and policy changes needed, along with vital interventions to help improve health and save lives. It is expected to prevent, between 2011 and 2015, the deaths of more than 15 million children under five, as well as 33 million unwanted pregnancies and the deaths of 740,000 women from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

To help ensure that it is successful, several agencies, including the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, are collaborating to mobilize ongoing political and operational support, including fighting for universal access to care for all women and children. This team will identify and connect resources to the people who need them based on the priorities set by countries in their national health plans.

In addition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are working with this team to ensure integrated services and efforts across a range of health needs.

"The Global Strategy asks us to be smart, strategic and resourceful as never before," said WHO Director-general Margaret Chan. "By integrating their actions, the eight international health-related agencies will strengthen capacities across the board, in ways that meet the comprehensive needs of women and children."


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