United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a new joint collaboration to address women’s and children’s health during his opening address for the second global Women Deliver conference this week in Washington, DC. The collaboration, supported most notably by the Gates Foundation and their recent $1.5 billion pledge, will include a push to focus on women’s health issues at the Group of Twenty meeting occurring in Canada later this month.
Ban and Gates Foundation co-founder Melinda Gates revealed a comprehensive five-year plan to assist and improve women’s maternal health, family planning, access to contraception, nutrition, and vaccination needs, reports Reuters.
Ban acknowledged that lack of health care was a result of discrimination against women, saying, “the women and children are always last in line for health issues.” He continued, “It’s just morally unacceptable…this is a real human rights issue,” reported Reuters. Ban expressed hope that the US will lead the way, both financially and politically, in the push for improved global women’s health, but recognized the need for poorer countries to join the effort. Ban suggested that developing countries promise health issues at least 15 percent of their national budget. Gates reiterated, “this is a government issue, and it is going to take large scale government funding to make it work,” reported Reuters.
The three day Women Deliver conference is the largest meeting on international maternal health to occur in the past ten years with some 3,500 attendees. According to a media advisory released by the event, the conference is designed to gather global leaders to review recent maternal health trends, discuss challenges to women’s health, and “underscore the priority for funding health services for women and girls worldwide.”