Thursday, 18 October 2007

Nigeria’s Minister of Health presents Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Strategy benefits at Women Deliver Conference in London

Nigeria’s Honourable Minister of Health travels to London this week to present at the 2007 Women Deliver Global Conference on how a national maternal, newborn, and child health strategy can promote a continuum of care and reach out to mothers and newborns everywhere.

The Women Deliver conference, from October 18th to 20th, marks the twentieth anniversary of the world's first-ever Safe Motherhood conference in 1987 in Nairobi, Kenya, where delegates gathered to protest the near-silent tragedy of mothers dying from childbirth, and issued an international call to action to cut maternal mortality in half by the year 2000.

Now, twenty years later, mothers and children are still dying from avoidable deaths. In Nigeria alone, six women die every hour from birth-related causes that could be prevented from simple medical interventions such as cesarean sections or malaria vaccinations. Funding for state and local hospitals, while increasing, is still only about 20 per cent of the overall government health funds in Nigeria, which is not enough to provide adequate staff, equipment, or medical training.

It is conditions like these in Nigeria and around the world that prompts the Women Deliver conference to revisit the 1987 goal of reducing maternal mortality and cast an urgent cry to governments and agencies to invest in women, mothers, and children. The conference, themed, "Invest in women--it pays" focuses on improving women's and newborn health, advancing human rights, expanding financial resources, building political will, and promoting women in the world.

Women are central to every society, and investing in women's health will not only save lives but strengthen the economic, social, and political health of every nation. Following this theme, the conference includes personal testimonials from women and children illustrating how small investments helped them to become agents of change in their communities. As well, representatives of World Health Organization (WHO), International HIV and AIDS Alliance, United Nations Population Fund and more will present studies on how improvements in the lives of women and girls translate into improvements in their health, in the health of their children, reductions in fertility, and high returns to overall economic progress. Delegates will be given the opportunity to then devise innovative strategies and partnerships for increasing investment in women’s health.

By encouraging governments to integrate women’s health and rights into national plans and strategies, the health policymakers, medical professionals, and public-health experts at the conference can fulfil the promise made in Nairobi, Kenya, and deliver for today’s women, mothers, and children in Nigeria and around the world.

*Reported by Amanda Hale

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