The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions. They have pulled together unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest populations.
Countries have made substantial progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5; to improve maternal health. However, progress overall is insufficient and uneven. The Global investment framework for women’s and children’s health shows that investments in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) could yield up to nine times their value in economic and social benefits
A report, “Countdown to 2015”, was launched two weeks ago at a partner’s forum by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child health (PMNCH) in Johannesburg, attended by AWLN members Nyaradzai Gumbodzvanda and Yvonne Chaka Chaka.
The Countdown to 2015 tracks the progress in 75 countries and reveals that substantial inequities persist, even in countries that have made solid gains in maternal and child health.
The 75 (predominantly African) countries covered in Countdown’s 2014 report, “Fulfilling the Health Agenda for Women and Children,” account for more than 95 per cent of all maternal and child deaths each year.
Time is running out to ensure that the health Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 remain on the post 2015 agenda, and set the stage for elimination of preventable maternal and child deaths.
According to the Countdown report, in several countries, more than half of the mothers and children in the poorest of the population receive 2 or fewer of 8 interventions, deemed essential for preventing or treating common causes of maternal and child deaths, including vaccinations, skilled birth attendance, and access to family planning.
AWLN recognizes that future progress in maternal and reproductive health requires focus on the International Conference on Population and Development’s (ICPD) Plan of Action and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5.
However, a recent offline report by the Lancet on “WHO’s definitive statement about the future it envisions for the post-2015 era of sustainable development” indicates a worrying regression by WHO away from championing its own policies of sexual and reproductive health rights.
For this reason, AWLN members are doing everything in their power to ensure WHO stays true to its longstanding commitments on the following:
i) the right to the highest attainable standard of health, as one of the fundamental rights of every human being, a goal which has underpinned WHO’s work since it was founded in 1948,
ii) universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and
iii) strengthening of health systems, taking into account the social and economic determinants of health.
Last month, AWLN members sent a letter to Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO Director General expressing their “shock and deep concerned that WHO dropped this MDG health target which aims for all women and men to have access to contraception and reproductive health.”
Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights is in line with WHO’s own 2004 Reproductive Health Strategy, approved by the 57th World Health Assembly, and more recent resolution at the 67th World Health Assembly.