Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has gathered senior leaders from around the world for a meeting that began today in New York on ways to step-up commitments to improve the health of women, children and adolescents globally under a United Nations initiative.
“Women, children and adolescents are the most powerful drivers of transformative and sustainable change,” said Mr. Ban ahead of the retreat, which has been organized in the context of the Every Woman, Every Child initiative. “Within a generation, we have the historical opportunity to create a world where women, children and adolescents not only survive preventable causes, but thrive to their fullest potential.”
The two-day retreat brings together Government representatives, CEOs, civil society leaders, private sector partners, global advocates and heads of UN agencies to prepare new commitments to mobilize action to ensure support for women, children and adolescents’ health in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.
Every Woman, Every Child is a movement to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around the world. It is aimed at putting into action the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and is the fastest growing partnership in history on public health.
A total of $34 billion in resources have already been disbursed, translating into concrete action on the ground, such as greater prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, better access to oral rehydration therapy, as well as improvement of professional maternity care, family planning, childhood vaccinations, and prenatal and postnatal care.
“Improving the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents everywhere is one of the best investments we can make,” said Mr. Ban.
It is estimated that the lives of 2.4 million women and children have been saved in the 49 countries targeted by the movement, but accelerating progress is crucial as millions more continue to suffer and die from preventable causes. To ensure reduction in the number of maternal and under-five children deaths, political support is required at the highest level, especially as the new development agenda is being negotiated.
At a luncheon held in New York today ahead of the retreat, the Secretary-General described how his advisors had overwhelmingly looked to improving women’s and children’s health as a route to having a broad impact on enhancing achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“What was astonishing to me then is that they said we already knew the solutions, but we did not have the resources, commitment or coordination to make an impact,” said Mr. Ban. “I am so glad that I can stand here today and say that we are turning the tide.”
He stressed his pride in the achievements made under the ‘Every Woman, Every Child’ initiative but noted that the progress seen was “fragile” and said the Global Strategy would be updated to align with the sustainable development goals.
“The updated Global Strategy will place new attention on adolescents’ needs, inequalities, and how to respond more effectively in humanitarian crises and fragile settings,” said Mr. Ban.
“It will aim to build the resilience of health systems, improve the quality of health services and equity in their coverage. It will examine how to work more effectively with key health-enhancing sectors, such as education, nutrition, sustainable energy, water and sanitation. And it will be backed-up with concrete action and financing at all levels and from all stakeholders.”
He said that a Global Financing Facility to support of the initiative would be launched in July, adding that a high-level Advisory Group for ‘Every Woman, Every Child’ and the updated Global Strategy was also about to start work with the aim of inspiring ambitious action that translates into steady progress on the ground.
“Let us remember, we are all accountable to every woman, every child,” he said. “Every woman, every child is a health worker going the extra mile to save a life. It is a politician, a business person, it is an educator. It is your mother or father, brother or sister.”