UN Heads Welcome New Campaign to Avert Maternal and Child Deaths, and Norway's $1 Billion Pledge

27 September 2007
Author: UNFPA

UNITED NATIONS, New York — Women leaders of the United Nations welcomed today’s launch of a global campaign to eliminate maternal and child deaths around the world. Called Deliver Now for Women + Children, the effort was unveiled today by the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, who pledged $1 billion to the cause.

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director and hostess of the "Saving 77 Million Lives" panel at United Nations. Photo: M. Morris

“UNFPA welcomes efforts such as this very generous pledge to help speed up the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals, especially those related to maternal and child health,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. “We must work harder and faster to end a situation where far too many women die during pregnancy and childbirth and far too many children are left as orphans. No woman should die giving life. No child should be without hope."

“Increased funding is critical to this cause of saving millions of lives by 2015,” said Ms. Obaid, speaking at ‘Saving 77 Million Lives’, a panel held at the United Nations to coincide with the launch of Deliver Now. “Saving these lives is vital to humanity because there can be no safe future without safe motherhood. We cannot make poverty history unless we make maternal death and disability history.”

Some 10 million women and children die annually from preventable causes. More than 300 million developing country-women suffer from maternal illness.

The Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, speaking at the panel. Photo: M. Morris

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro and the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, also addressed the panel.

“Maternal and child health is one of the most important issues facing humanity today,” said Mr. Stoltenberg, Norway’s Prime Minister. “For many women, their most important day—the day of delivery—is also the most dangerous. And for babies, the first day of life is the most dangerous. We need to relieve this danger by getting health services to women and mothers during these critical times.”

“We need more political will and must double our efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals,” said Mr. Stoltenberg, adding, “We need to develop a society that includes everybody.”

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro (left) and Zambia's First Lady, Maureen Mwanawasa, talk before the beginning of the panel. Photo: M. Morris

While Norway had just pledged $1 billion for maternal and child health, even more is needed from other donors, he said.

“By the time I finish this statement, 300 children and five women would have died,” said Ms. Rose-Migiro, adding that the world could not go on like this. The international community should help because the poorest countries lack the means to provide for the health of their people.

Deliver Now was launched today in New York with rallies and awareness-raising events to build popular support for the campaign. It follows the recent launch of the International Health Partnership in London by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr. Stoltenberg, Ms. Obaid and other world leaders.

Today’s launch will be followed by other global events such as the major Women Deliver Conference, to take place in London from 18 to 20 October.

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