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Unprecedented Global Health Movement Yields Gains for Women's and Children's Health

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--(Marketwire - Sept. 26, 2012) -

Editors Note: There are two videos associated with this press release.

Since its launch in September 2010, the Every Woman Every Child movement, led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has helped catalyze new attention and investment to some of the most neglected causes of women's and children's mortality. Through unprecedented global coordination and partnerships, the movement has leveraged more than $20 billion in new money to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. As of now, $10 billion has already been disbursed.

The movement counts more than 250 individual commitments by more than 100 partners, including low-income countries, donor governments, the UN, the private sector and civil society. Results of the joint efforts of these partners, and new commitments to spur even greater progress, will be announced tonight at a special dinner in New York to be hosted by the UN Secretary-General for senior leaders attending the UN General Assembly.

"In just two years, Every Woman Every Child has achieved important results in accelerating progress for women and children," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon." I am encouraged that so many global leaders have galvanized action around key issues like family planning, child survival and access to essential commodities. Even in these times of austerity, there is no better investment than the health of women and children."

Despite faltering investment in development overall, the past year has seen remarkable energy relating to women's and children's health, including the launch of A Promise Renewed, a sustained, global effort to save children's lives, and $2.6 billion in new commitments to family planning made at the London Summit for Family Planning in July. This push was led by a wide number of donors from both high-income and low-income countries, including the UK Government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNFPA, the governments of Norway, France and others.

Other commitments this year have targeted key issues such as improving the prevention and care of preterm births, as well as the launch of recommendations to support the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities in improving access to vital commodities proven to reduce deaths of women and children. This week's announcements in New York also include an additional US$52m million for women's and children's health in Africa from the Government of Sweden, as well as a pledge from World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim to establish a special funding mechanism to enable donors to scale up their funding to meet the urgent needs related to MDGs 4 and 5, leveraging the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank's fund for the poorest.

Such commitments are extremely timely. Progress towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and children remains slow in many countries, and gains are often fragile. MDG 4 calls for a two-thirds reduction in deaths among children under five, while MDG 5 calls for a three-quarters reduction in the maternal mortality ratio by 2015.

Although the number of child deaths has fallen by more than 40% since 1990, only 28 of the 74 most affected countries in the world are on-track to achieve the MDG 4 target. Similarly, while maternal deaths have dropped by nearly 50% since 1990, only 9 of the 74 countries are on track to achieve their agreed targets.

With much yet to do, the partners of Every Woman Every Child will meet this evening to redouble their resolve to reach the goals. Participants will hear evidence that progress is possible, even in a short period of time. For example, enough insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been procured to cover 73% of the at-risk population in Africa, from less than 2% a decade ago, helping to slash malaria mortality rates in the region by one-third. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months has risen from 26% a decade ago to 40% today, providing a sound nutritional start to life and ensuring critical protection against water-borne diseases and diarrhoea - a major cause of death of young children. Access to life-saving vaccines and Vitamin A has escalated dramatically as well, and are now within reach of 80% of those living in the most affected countries. And the training and deployment of community health workers has escalated dramatically in many countries, bringing care closer to home.

Progress on Every Woman Every Child is documented in a new report by the independent Expert Review Group, to be presented to the UN Secretary-General in New York this week. The report is produced by an independent panel of experts on the recommendation of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's health, chaired by President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada. This accountability framework is a unique attribute of Every Woman Every Child, and will continue through 2015.

"The MDGs have catalyzed global commitments that have saved millions of lives, improved economies exponentially, and united the world in new ways," said Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary-General's MDG Advocate and Special Envoy for Malaria. "With the finishing line in sight, any slowdown now would undo years of progress - instead we need a big push to get us there, and there is no reason we can't do it."

About Every Woman Every Child

Every Woman Every Child aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. It is an unprecedented global movement that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world. The movement puts into action the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, which presents a roadmap on how to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service on the ground for the most vulnerable women and children.

For more information: www.everywomaneverychild.org

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