Maternal health tops the political agenda

The Women Deliver conference, which gets underway today in Washington DC and runs until 9 June, is bringing the international community together to seek improved health outcomes for women and children.

This year’s theme is on “delivering solutions for girls and women” and focuses on reaching Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 – to improve reproductive and maternal health. Webcasts from the conference will be available on the Women Deliver 2010 website.To coincide with the event, DFID have announced a new £5 million fund to help British midwives and health workers share their skills with birth attendants, nurses and doctors in the world’s poorest countries. The fund will also encourage better partnerships between the NHS and overseas health systems, and share innovations in health technology.

In a recent newspaper article, Prime Minster David Cameron said:

“In many of the poorest countries pregnancy is a life-threatening condition. By the end of today about 1,400 women will have died in pregnancy or childbirth, nearly all of them in the developing world. A decade ago, the world set a target of reducing maternal mortality by 75% by 2015. Yet once again, for all the talk of development goals, little has changed. Levels of maternal mortality in many regions have barely fallen in 20 years. That is shocking and shameful. But it doesn’t have to continue like this.”

RESULTS welcomes this announcement from DFID which will help to address the chronic health worker shortage. In a recent post, we drew attention to the fact that 57 countries have insufficient numbers of health workers and that none of the health MDGs will be met without addressing this problem.

For our May grassroots action, members of our network are continuing to meet with and write to our new MPs to inform them about maternal and child health issues. We are asking them to support the scale up of crucial interventions that have proven to save the lives of women and children as well as asking for their help to ensure that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (which supports many programmes that tackle some of the leading causes of death of women and children) Replenishment Conference is successful this year.

Although the £5 million fund is a great first step, we are hoping to hear announcements of further UK support to live up to David Cameron’s welcome words about achieving progress on this issue at the upcoming G8 summit, which is due to focus on maternal and child health. Our action will help push the government to support those evidence-based interventions that we know will really deliver for women and children. Click here to find out more about how you can also support this action.

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