BY SOLA OGUNDIPE
Making her first public appearance since the end of her mourning period after the death of her husband, Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, has tasked the world to ensure that women, children and infants attain their given potential, no matter where they live in the world.
Machel, who is Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, PMNCH and African Ambassador for Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, spoke at the opening of the PMNCH, 2014 Partners’ Forum in Sandton, South Africa.
“The world has made remarkable progress to improve health and expand opportunities over the past 14 years. Despite all efforts, there is still much more to be done. Women and children have not been covered adequately. We must ensure that all women, adolescent girls, children and newborns, no matter where they live, are able to fulfill their rights to health and education, and realise their full potential,” she remarked.
Launching two brand new reports on maternal and child health – entitled : Countdown to 2015 Report for 2014, and Success Factors for Women’s and Children’s Health Report , she said with 500 days to the global target for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, a lot remained to be done to improve the fortunes of maternal and child health the world over.
Partners at the Forum , comprising more than 800 leaders and public health experts from around the world, argued for women and children to be at the centre of the post-2015 development agenda, urgent action was needed to curb persistent health inequalities, and also to cut maternal and child mortality in the world
The 2-day conference, which involved the review of new data and call for accelerated action to improve maternal, newborn and child health, in support of the UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child movement, builds on two months of high-level meetings in Toronto, Prague, and Washington, DC, where global leaders and health experts met to discuss strategies to promote the health of women and children. At the Forum, leaders discussed steps to assist countries that have lagged behind in efforts to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, and made specific recommendations for how to maintain the focus on women and children within the post-2015 development agenda.
The Countdown to 2015 Report for 2014, presents the latest assessment of progress in the 75 countries that account for 95 percent of all maternal and child deaths each year.
The report finds that in several countries, more than half of the mothers and children in the poorest 20 percent of the population still receive two or fewer of the eight interventions deemed essential for preventing or treating common causes of maternal and child death, including vaccinations, skilled birth attendance, pneumonia and diarrhoea treatment, and access to family planning.