World Leaders Will Save 10 Million Mothers and Newborns by 2015

10/27/2008 // Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg launched the first year Progress Report on the Global Campaign for Health. The Report demonstrates that increased investments in health – a doubling of health aid since 2000 – are having results.

More than 2 million people are now receiving AIDS treatment, the rapid scale-up of effective malaria programmes is leading to dramatic reductions in child mortality and measles deaths have fallen by 68% since 1999.

But the Report also calls for urgent, effective international action to accelerate progress towards the UN goals of reducing maternal and child deaths by 2015. To save 3m mothers and 7m newborns – and meet these goals - an extra $2.4bn in 2009 rising to $7bn in 2015 will be needed.

Over 1 Million New Health Workers

Responding to this call, Heads of Governments and Health Agencies committed to mobilise international support for stronger health systems, including the training and recruitment of over 1 million health workers.

Specific pledges included an announcement by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown of nearly $1bn over the next 3 years to support national health plans in 8 countries, and a commitment from Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, to base teams of new, expert staff in Africa over the coming months to help some of the poorest countries to strengthen their health systems for better maternal, newborn and child health.

Coallition of Partners

And, while these traditional investments in the health of the poor remain vital to tackling disease, helping developing countries to recruit and retain health workers, and build and develop their own health systems will require a new long-term approach to health financing. So today world leaders announced the establishment of a high-level Taskforce on Innovative Financing for Health Systems, to make recommendations to the Italian G8 Summit in 2009 on how innovative aid mechanisms can complement other sources of finance to deliver the extra resources that are needed.

An unprecedented coalition of partners has gathered in New York to support the Global Campaign’s call for urgent action. Summarising the range of events taking place, Margaret Chan pledged to keep the cause of mothers and children firmly at the top of the international development agenda and with development and civil society partners, rapidly scale up support for countries through the International Health Partnership to develop and finance comprehensive national health plans.

The Taskforce

The Taskforce for Innovative International Finance for Health Systems will help to mobilise the extra money that is needed to finance plans such as these. For example, Germany has supported a mechanism which offers debt cancellation linked to investments in the health sector. Other existing instruments include the French-led UNITAID, the results based financing trust fund and the international finance facility for immunisation.

The Taskforce will be co-Chaired by Gordon Brown and Robert Zoellick and comprises 8 additional members:

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia)
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Norway)
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Health Minister, Ethiopia)
Bernard Kouchner (Foreign Minister, France)
Guilio Tremonti (Finance Minister, Italy)
Heidemarie Wierczorek-Zeul (Development Minister, Germany)
Margaret Chan (Director-General of the World Health Organisation)
Graça Machel
Phillipe Douste-Blazy, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Innovative Financing will serve as a Special Adviser to the Taskforce.

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