Canada hosts high level summit on maternal, newborn and child health – Toronto, Canada, May 28-30 2014

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Starting today, Canada is host to a high level summit on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH). The Summit, entitled Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach, builds on the Muskoka Initiative on MNCH announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the G8 summit in June 2010. It commits governments to collectively spend $7.3 billion between 2010 and 2015 to accelerate progress towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, specifically the reduction of maternal, infant and child mortality in developing countries. Total Government of Canada contribution for the initiative is $2.85 billion with $1.1 billion in new money and $1.75 billion to renew existing funding over 5 years.

Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD), as a resource partner of the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (CAN-MNCH), has been invited to participate in the Summit alongside Prime Minister Harper, Cabinet Ministers, Government Officials and representatives from Canadian and international civil society organizations and UN Agencies.

Aiming to “galvanize support for the next phase of efforts and ensure that maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) remains a global priority,” the Summit will host high-level speakers, including:

  • His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania
  • Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization
  • Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  • Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund
  • Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group
  • Melinda Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Issues to be discussed during the Summit include: accelerating progress on maternal health, reducing newborn mortality, saving lives through immunization, scaling up nutrition as a foundation for healthy lives, building civil registrationand vital statistics systems, and building new partnerships with the private sector to leverage innovation and financing.

Reflecting on the implementation of the Muskoka Initiative to date, and issues to be discussed during the Summit, ACPD highlights that little Muskoka funding has been directed towards family planning and reproductive health. Of the $2.28 billion spent as of March 2014, only 0.55% was spent on family planning, totaling just $12.8 million since 2010. This, despite a global unmet need for family planning, whereby 222 million women lack access to a range of modern methods of contraception, contributing to the 80 million women who experience unplanned pregnancies and 20 million unsafe abortions which take place every year.

ACPD is therefore calling on the Government of Canada, and Summit attendees to prioritize the following during the Summit, and beyond:

  1. Ensure funding for a comprehensive and integrated package of sexual and reproductive health services and information, which includes emergency contraception and safe abortion
  2. End the Ministerial restrictions on funding for safe abortion in Canadian aid
  3. Increase spending on family planning
  4. Increase investments in comprehensive sexuality education
  5. Ensure that gender equality is at the core of all development initiatives, particularly those aimed at address maternal, child and newborn health

In preparation for the Summit, ACPD prepared a backgrounder examining support for family planning and reproductive health care within the context of the Muskoka Initiative. It can be accessed online, here.

The Summit follows on the heels of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development(CAPPD), which took place Tuesday, May 27 2014 on Parliament Hill. The AGM was successful in electing its 2014-2015 Executive Committee, made up of the incumbent Chair, Rathika Sitsabaiesan, and Vice-Chairs: Mylène Freeman, Sadia Groguhé, Honourable Hedy Fry and Elizabeth May. The AGM also consisted of an interactive discussion entitled “The Muskoka Initiative: Taking stock and looking ahead – What to expect from the high level summit on MNCH. Emerging from the discussion, parliamentarians committed to follow-up with the government on Canada’s support for MNCH, beyond 2015, to be announced during the ongoing MNCH Summit.

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