Tuesday, June 08, 2010

'Women Deliver' Conference Emphasizes Maternal and Child Health

As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals quickly approaches, a new focus has been placed on maternal and child health by both private and governmental organizations. This is one of the aims of the "Women Deliver" Conference currently underway in Washington D.C.. The three-day conference is the largest of its kind, including 3,500 attendees from 140 different countries.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asserted that "history will show that 2010 was a year of new, decisive action - a year when the world decided that no woman should die giving life and no child should die when we know how to save them." The Secretary-General also introduced a new "joint action plan" at the conference, urging public and private organizations to allocate money to help this cause.

This emphasis has also been embraced by the Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has typically focused on immunizations and AIDS related issues. The organization announced that will spend $1.5 billion over the next five years to help achieve the goals of reducing infant mortality rates and improving maternal health. Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, expressed both the challenges and hope presented by this issue. "Every year, millions of newborns die within a matter of weeks, and hundreds of thousands of women die in child birth. The truth is, we can prevent these deaths - and at a stunningly low cost - if we take action."

--Andrew Oestreich