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G-8 commitment to global health lauded by UN agencies

G-8 commitment to global health lauded by UN agencies

Two United Nations agencies have welcomed commitments made by the leaders of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations regarding global health, voicing hope that their pledges will boost care for the world’s most vulnerable.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) today voiced its appreciation for the renewed support expressed by the G-8 for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, particularly the ones pertaining to maternal and reproductive health.

“We strongly welcome this new show of concern by leaders of the world’s richest nations for the lives of poor women around the world,” said the agency’s Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. “I have no doubt that this provides millions of women with a new source of optimism, and with a very clear signal that the world has not forgotten them.”

G-8 leaders, in a statement issued today on African development, said that country-led plans centering on maternal, newborn and child health are crucial for achieving the MDGs on child mortality and maternal health.

At the meeting in Toyako, Japan, which wrapped up today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the need for a sharpened focus on maternal health since it is the “slowest-moving target of all the MDGs.” He noted that $10 billion would guarantee basic coverage for maternal, newborn and children’s health.

UNFPA voiced hope that the G-8 commitment will spur increased investment in health to curb the millions of preventable deaths of women and children annually.

“It would cost the world less than two-and-a-half-day’s worth of military spending to save the lives of 6 million mothers, newborns and children every year,” said Ms. Obaid. “We urge G-8 leaders to translate their commitment into stepped up funding, and to lead by example through their commitment to save and protect lives.”

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said the G-8 heads have taken an “important step” to alleviate the suffering of, and improve care for, the most vulnerable.

“Many noble commitments have been made over the last decade to support health. And now G-8 nations are saying they will ensure an accounting of those promises every year,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “This is commendable.”