On the final day of 2010 the UK Department for International Development launched its strategies for enhancing maternal health and controlling malaria. Together, these seek to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of women and children in the poorest countries of the world.
The maternal and newborn health strategy, Choices for women outlines two strategic priorities for maternal health – preventing unintended pregnancies and ensuring that pregnancy and childbirth are safe. Choices for women aims to save the lives of at least 50,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth and 250,000 new born babies by 2015. Measures in the paper will also mean that at least 10 million more women are able to use modern methods of family planning, 5 million unintended pregnancies are prevented and at least 2 million safe deliveries. This drive builds on the G8’s commitment following their 2010 meeting in Muskoka Canada, where leaders promised to accelerate efforts to address maternal and child health.The malaria strategy, Breaking the cycle, outlines how the UK will support international efforts to halve malaria deaths in at least 10 high burden countries in the developing world. It commits a huge budget of up to £500million each year by 2014/15. Malaria, a preventable and treatable disease, kills over 2000 people each day with most deaths occurring in young children. In Africa, one in five child deaths is caused by malaria.
These strategies are exciting news for global health and international development. With malaria deaths continuing to fall, it is possible that we could see the elimination of malaria deaths in many countries where the disease is prevalent. Maternal health is one of the most off-track of the Millennium Development Goals and the focus of renewed international efforts. If other countries back up the UK’s work on this issue then the world can make real progress on these deadly, but preventable health issues. While these new strategies are hugely welcome, it is important that efforts and work on wider development issues, and indeed other major preventable diseases, also continue.
You can view these strategy documents at the following links: