The future we want
By Nana Taona Kuo
We have made great strides on the increased survival and health of women and children since the Millennium Development Goals were launched in 2000.
Thanks to the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, the subsequent Every Woman Every Child movement and the work of the many partners around the world, the progress that has been made for women and children has been the success story of the MDGs.
Four years on, more than 300 stakeholders, including 70 governments, have made commitments to advance that strategy. Every Woman Every Child has proven to be a dynamic and innovative multistakeholder partnership that is delivering results.
We are reducing deaths of children under 5 faster than at any time in the past two decades. Each day, 17,000 more children survive, and deaths of mothers have been cut by almost half since 1990.
This is unprecedented progress, but there are still millions of women and children dying every day from treatable and preventable diseases. Now is not the time to take our foot off of the gas. We have the tools and know-how to achieve the health MDGs, and together, we have the opportunity to save 158,000 women and 2.3 million children by the 2015 deadline, laying the groundwork to end preventable maternal and child deaths within a generation.
This vision for achieving the MDGs and beyond is possible with innovative financing and increased political commitment, and accountability for resources and results strongly at the core.
To reach our goals in 2015 and end all preventable maternal and child deaths in a generation, we must also prioritize the primary causes of mortality. For instance, half of maternal and newborn deaths occur during labor or on the day a baby is born. It will only take $1.15 per person to save 3 million women and babies by 2025.
By investing in quality care at the time of birth, the Every Newborn Action Plan outlines how smart integration will maximize our ongoing efforts. Another common plan is around expanding access to affordable, quality commodities. With increased availability and use, the 13 lifesaving commodities identified by the U.N. Commission on Lifesaving Commodities could save 6 million women, newborns and children over five years.
Another key to advancement is meaningful partnership with other development sectors, like water and sanitation, education, women’s empowerment, nutrition, and climate change. Investing in women’s and children’s health positively benefits other development goals and coordination with other sectors must continue to be a tenet of our work — especially in humanitarian settings.
Finally, the strength of Every Woman Every Child has been its partnership across government, including South-South collaboration, civil society, U.N. agencies and the private sector.
Every Woman Every Child, with its strong accountability mechanism and focus on innovation, including financing, is a pathfinder for the next development agenda. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continues to make women’s and children’s health one of his top priorities, both because of its moral validity, but also because it is a smart investment.
Together we will achieve our vision of ending preventable maternal and child deaths, making this world more equitable and secure for future generations.
Nana Taona Kuo
Nana Taona Kuo is senior manager of Every Woman Every Child, a U.N. global campaign that hopes to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015 by engaging governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address major health challenges facing women and children around the world. Kuo previously worked for UNAIDS.