Asia-Pacific reaffirms support to United Nations initiative that is saving women’s and children’s lives

United Nations agencies in the Asia-Pacific region today reaffirmed their commitment to a global goal to save the lives of 16 million children, new mothers and pregnant women who would otherwise die of preventable causes by 2015, by working with governments, health professionals, business and civil society.

During a meeting with the visiting Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Dr. Noeleen Heyzer and heads of United Nations agencies based in Bangkok, reviewed regional progress in implementing the Every Woman Every Child campaign launched by the world body in September 2010.

“While some countries face continuing challenges in improving maternal health, I am optimistic that initiatives such as Every Woman and Every Child will help deliver results,” Dr. Migiro told participants of the regional coordination meeting.

The stocktaking comes ahead of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to the region next month which will focus on mobilizing Asia-Pacific support for the initiative.
With a large share of the estimated 8 million children who die every year worldwide of preventable causes, and the more than 350,000 women killed by preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, the Asia-Pacific region is key to the success of the initiative that aims to save the lives of more than 15 million children under five, including more than 3 million newborns between 2011 and 2015.

The roadmap of the Every Woman Every Child campaign, the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health also aims to prevent 33 million unwanted pregnancies and about 570,000 women from dying from complications relating to pregnancy and childbirth. Additionally, an estimated 88 million children under five would be protected from stunting and 120 million would be protected from pneumonia by 2015.

Reporting on the progress in the campaign, the United Nations chief noted significant gains. “One year on, we are seeing the very real results that Every Woman Every Child was meant to generate.
The number of mothers dying from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes is decreasing, and the number of children surviving beyond their fifth birthday has grown,” the United Nations Secretary-General said in a message on the first anniversary of the launch of the campaign.

With just four years left to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), the regional re-launch capitalizes on their implementation focus. The campaign is mobilizing political will and civil action and focuses on high-impact interventions, strengthening health systems, and integrating efforts across diseases and sectors such as health, education, water, sanitation and nutrition. It is also promoting human rights, gender equality and poverty reduction.

It identifies key areas where action is urgently needed to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service delivery. These include country-led health plans, integrated delivery of health services and life-saving interventions, innovative approaches to financing, product development and the efficient delivery of health services, improved monitoring and evaluation to ensure the accountability of all actors for results.

The campaign calls on the international community and world leaders to intensify efforts to improve women’s and children’s health ahead of 2015.