Late last week, 16 countries (see list here), 9 of which are from the African continent, pledged their commitments to reducing maternal, newborn, and child mortality, as part of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. The countries, supported by UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, the World Bank, and WHO, will focus on promoting increased contraceptive use, better access to obstetric care, immunizations, and the prevention of mother to child HIV transmission.
Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director stated, “Focusing on the women and children in greatest need is not only the right thing to do, it moves us faster and most cost-effectively towards meeting the health Millennium Development Goals. By choosing to redouble their efforts on maternal and child health, these 16 nations are not only saving lives, they are making an investment in their future.”
Launched in September 2010, the Global Strategy aims to reduce maternal and child death in developing nations. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Bank released a report in September stating that although maternal mortality rates have decreased by 34 percent since 1990, the decline in the rate of pregnancy-related deaths is not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target for 2015. Currently, there are approximately 1,000 maternal deaths per day caused by easily preventable conditions that include severe bleeding after childbirth, infections, hypertensive disorders, and unsafe abortion.