A high-level UN meeting on women and child health opened yesterday in Dar es Salaam, with the commission’s Vice Co-Chair, Margaret Chan expressing concern over the failure by some development partners to support developing nations fight maternal and child mortality.
Chan who is the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General said more efforts by governments, international agencies, creditor nations and other development partners were needed to lift women and children, the most vulnerable groups, out of health and related problems.
According to the UN commission’s draft report, while much is known about where and why women and children die and how to prevent the deaths too little is being done to address the causes and implement the solutions designed for reducing “huge burden of unnecessary morbidity and mortality”.
“In too many cases, this reflects insufficient political attention to women’s and children’s health,” noted the report unveiled at the meeting that attracted experts and high-profile figures from around the world.
At the beginning of the meeting, President Jakaya Kikwete reminded the world on the daunting challenges ahead of developing and poor nations in reducing maternal and child mortality.
He said Africa has about 12 per cent of the world’s population but accounts for up to 50 per cent of the global maternal deaths and 49 per cent of deaths of under-five year children.
“Together, Asia and Africa account for 92 per cent of the world’s under five mortality,” said Kikwete at the opening of the second meeting of the UN Commission for Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, which he co-chairs with Canada Prime Minister, Stephen Harper.
As commissioners of the UN organ deliberated on women and child health, they should remain mindful of the realities on the ground, he observed.
“The above mentioned statistics are a stark reminder of the enormity of the critical challenges facing poor nations in redressing maternal and child mortality,” he said.
He tasked commissioners gathered to review draft report of the Commission’s working groups-on Accountability for Resources and Accountability for Results, to propose strategies that could address women and child challenges.
“This is a critical element for success of the global strategy which provides unprecedented opportunity to accelerate progress made in the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - 4 and 5 by 2015,” he noted.
This is the second and final meeting of the UN Commission on women and children health, which allows commissioners to discuss the draft report on health-related problems facing the social groups and ways of tackling them, shape it and prepare the final report.
But President Kikwete insisted that final report of the commission was not the end of “our mission” but “rather the beginning of an interactive and collaborative partnership on matters related to women’s and child health.”
“There is more work ahead of us; we must deliberate on how to take this work forward. We look upon further engagement on the concerted action of the international community to bring about change in tackling this challenge before us,” he noted.