International Alliance Launched to Support Country-Led Progress in Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health
NEW YORK, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Australia Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a five-year public/private global alliance to contribute to the goal of reducing the unmet need for family planning by 100 million women, expand skilled birth attendance and facility-based deliveries, and increase the numbers of women and newborns receiving quality post-natal care by 2015. The Alliance includes the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Exemplifying the international focus on donor harmonization and country ownership of development, the Alliance will closely coordinate the efforts of partners to support country strategies to scale-up proven, high-impact interventions and to explore and adapt innovations that can advance health outcomes. Alliance partners will coordinate at both the headquarters- and country-levels, seeking to leverage and complement health investments to achieve greater impact in less time. Countries will benefit from the combined technical and programming expertise of key donors in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.
The Alliance will specifically address aspects of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4, Reduce Child Mortality, and 5, Improve Maternal Health, where progress has been especially slow. Currently, it is estimated that more than 200 million women want to use contraceptives but don’t have access. In addition, only half of the 123 million women who give birth each year receive the antenatal, delivery and postnatal, and newborn care they need; and progress in reducing deaths has been slower for newborn deaths than for deaths among children ages one month to five years.
“Family planning plays a crucial role in improving the health of women and their children throughout the world,” said USAID Administrator Raj Shah. “By bringing the comparative advantages of country partners and donors through this Alliance, we will bolster health outcomes in countries striving to improve the lives and health of its women, girls, and newborns.”
“It is an international scandal that more than 350,000 women die in the developing world every year from complications in pregnancy or child birth that can be easily prevented,” said Andrew Mitchell the UK’s International Development Secretary. “This groundbreaking alliance is an opportunity to support national governments to deliver plans that will make a difference to millions of families in poor countries.”
“Australia is proud to be a founding member of the Alliance,” said Kevin Rudd, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs. “Collectively we need to support country leadership, and make the investment case for more resources in return for better results. Through the Alliance we will further extend the reach and impact of our aid to ensure better health outcomes for the poorest and most vulnerable women and children.”
“If we invest in the health of women and children, we ensure that families, communities, and nations thrive,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This alliance is an exciting opportunity for the foundation, and we look forward to greater collaboration in supporting policies and programs that will improve the health of millions of women and children.”
The Alliance will focus on selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to strengthen both health systems and access to primary and community health care in ways that better serve women and adolescents, that develop and adapt new technologies and innovations to improve health outcomes, and that bring coordinated support to country strategies for family planning, maternal, and neonatal health.
The Alliance supports the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health, announced ahead of the MDG Summit in New York September 22.
SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development