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G8 Outcome: SOGC News Release



G8 Leaders Reaffirm Support for Improving Maternal, Newborn and Child Health


Over the past year, the SOGC has been working closely with non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, Members of Parliament and various maternal health coalitions, to build consensus and to unify our voices so as to send one clear message to the leaders of G8 countries: that more needs to be done to prevent the tragic deaths of women, newborns and children in low-resource countries. By delivering countless presentations, organizing press conferences, meeting with government officials, mobilizing support among the general public and sending numerous letters to the Prime Minister, the SOGC has strongly advocated for Canada to take bold leadership at the 2010 G8 Summit to ensure that the health of women and children are prioritized on global development agendas. After long months of advocating for bold financial investment, the SOGC welcomes the reaffirmed support of G8 leaders, which includes a commitment to invest $5 billion dollars over the next 5 years towards maternal, newborn and child health.

During the G8 Summit in Muskoka, Prime Minister Stephen Harper put forth a signature Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiative and G8 leaders, as stated in the G8 Communiqué, "reaffirm[ed their] strong support to significantly reduce the number of maternal, newborn and under five child deaths as a matter of immediate humanitarian and development concern". The Government of Canada pledged $1.1 billion in new money over 5 years for the Muskoka Initiative, with the remaining G8 countries together pledging another $3.9 billion over 5 years and other developed countries and civil society organizations making up the difference to total $7.3 billion over 5 years. As far as Canada is concerned, this will mean an additional $220 million investment a year in Canada's foreign aid for maternal, newborn and child health. The money will be used to strengthen health systems with a focus on improving quality care to women and children, and will include antenatal care; attended childbirth; post-partum care; sexual and reproductive health care and services, including voluntary family planning; health education; treatment and prevention of diseases including infectious diseases; prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; immunizations; basic nutrition and relevant actions in the field of safe drinking water and sanitation. A core principal of the Initiative is that it will build "on proven, cost-effective, evidence-based interventions".

The SOGC has played an important role in shaping the Muskoka Initiative by offering its expertise to the Government of Canada and suggesting the most effective and the most urgent interventions to reduce maternal mortality in low-resource settings. "We are delighted that the Prime Minister has recognized that complications during labour and birth are the main reason mothers are dying and that aid efforts should be focused on pregnancy and childbirth" said Dr. Ahmed Ezzat, President of the SOGC. The outcome of the 2010 G8 Summit and the increased attention given to maternal and child health this year has proven that SOGC's advocacy efforts were extremely relevant and essential for gaining progress on the issue. For health professionals in particular, the SOGC strongly believes that professional associations, having a keen understanding of the impacts of simple and effective interventions on maternal mortality and morbidity rates, have a responsibility and an obligation to use their influence to promote and defend sexual and reproductive rights for all women.

Although the commitments made during the G8 Summit represent a step in the right direction, there is still much more work to be done to ensure that G8 leaders live up to their promises and to make sure the financial pledges are converted into real comprehensive programs and projects that will make a concrete difference in the lives of women and children around the world. The $7.3 billion which was pledged for the G8 Muskoka Initiative for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health falls short of what is required and what was committed in 2000 for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). An estimated $30 billion is required by 2015 to meet the MDGs on maternal, newborn and child health, which means there is still a long way to go. Even Prime Minister Harper admitted that "leaders were very, very cautious" with spending pledges. In addition, some organizations have expressed concern that, although Canada has committed new dollars for the Muskoka Initiative, they have also put a freeze on aid levels after 2010.

It is important for the SOGC and other organizations to continue advocating for maternal health beyond the 2010 G8 Summit. With the UN High-level Plenary on the MDGs taking place in September, we are presented with another opportunity to mark 2010 as a milestone for moving forward on improving quality care for women. By continuously raising our voices for women worldwide, we not only provide a voice to vulnerable populations who often go unheard, but we hold governments accountable for their actions and apply pressure to make sure that promises are met. The SOGC is pleased with the momentum that has been gained thus far and hopes to build on Canada's leadership and the G8's support to ensure that 2010 marks the year that the world finally decides to no longer accept the tragic fate of the more than 300,000 women who needlessly die during pregnancy and childbirth every year.


Following the G8 announcement on their financial support for maternal and child health, the SOGC has issued the following news release:

Canada's obstetricians and gynaecologists commend the G8 on their commitment to maternal, newborn and child health

 

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