Norway will provide up to NOK 500 million over a five year period, which will be used to help women and babies through childbirth and the critical first 24 hours after delivery.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre commented, “The day a child is born should be one of the happiest for the mother and the family. These deaths are unacceptable because they could have been prevented.”
New UN figures show that as many as 287 000 women die every year in connection with pregnancy and childbirth and due to inadequate health services. As many as 7.2 million children die of causes that could easily have been avoided. Ninety-nine per cent of women who die during childbirth live in developing countries, and more than half of these deaths are in Africa.
“Although UN figures show a positive development with a halving of maternal mortality over the last 20 years, we must find new approaches and strengthen our efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goal 5 on reducing maternal mortality by 75 % by 2015. Saving Mothers, Giving Life will play an important part in this,” said Mr Støre.
Saving Mothers, Giving Life, which was launched by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is a partnership with the Government of Norway, Merck for Mothers, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Every Mother Counts.
Mr Støre and Ms Clinton will set up a steering group that will facilitate close cooperation between the authorities, the private sector and NGOs. This will pave the way for innovation and initiatives by new actors that can help to save lives in the critical 24 hours around delivery. Norad (the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) will provide technical advice to ensure sound implementation, sustainable cooperation and local ownership of the programme. Efforts will concentrate on Zambia and Uganda to begin with.