In May 2014, Canada hosted a high level summit on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH). The Summit, entitled Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach, built on the Muskoka Initiative on MNCH announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the G8 summit in June 2010, which committed 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), was 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 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 registration and 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 highlighted 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.
The Summit ended with a commitment of $3.5 billion in new funding to be put towards maternal, newborn and child health between 2015 and 2020. The Government of Canada is set to open a call for proposals for projects under this initiative in September 2014.