G8 Leaders Give Maternal Health $10 Million
allAfrica.com, Kampala — The G8 leaders have committed $10 million annually to fund maternal and child health in Africa and other developing nations, the AU chairman, Malawi president Prof. Bingu Wa Mutharika, has said.
He told the AU summit yesterday that the G8 leaders made the pledge at their summit in Canada. The G8 comprises the eight most industrialised nations in the world. They are Canada, Germany, Italy, France, the US, Japan, the UK and Russia. The funds will be used to improve the welfare of infants and mothers and also prevent their deaths.
The theme for the AU summit is "Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa". Mutharika suggested that African leaders invest in food security to reverse the high maternal and infant mortality in the continent. According to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, about 240,000 mothers die annually in Africa while giving birth.
President Yoweri Museveni called on Africa to address social-economic transformation to attain maternal and child health. "How can we talk about maternal health without talking about development in general? In order to buy drugs, equipment and fund heath care, we need to collect taxes and in order to collect taxes, our economies must develop and our economies cannot grow without applying the right stimuli," he explained.
Museveni said Uganda had over 1,600 health centres, noting that the units had reduced maternal mortality from an average of about 600 deaths per 100,000 live births in the 1990s to about 435 deaths per 100,000 live births currently. He added that infant mortality had reduced from about 130 deaths per 100,000 live births in the 1990s to about 76 deaths per 100,000 live births currently.
The deputy UN Secretary General, Asha-Rose Migiro, lauded the AU for choosing the theme for the summit. "Investing in women pays. It is one of the best investments we can make for this and future generations," she said. Migiro noted that progress on maternal and child health in Africa had been lagging behind.
She urged the AU to build on the Maputo Plan for Sexual and Reproductive Health, the CARMMA Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa and the Abuja Call for Accelerated Action Towards Universal Access to HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria services.
Nigerian leader Jonathan Goodluck, who attended the summit for the first time as president, promised to work with fellow leaders to achieve the ideals of the AU.
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