Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for holding this event on such an important issue. Maternal and child health are vital among the Millennium Development Goals.
I had the privilege of being prime minister when world leaders agreed on the Goals in 2000. And I participated at the UN Millennium Summit where we adopted these goals. I remember very well travelling back to Norway and thinking how far it is from the meeting rooms at the UN here in New York to the villages and shanti towns in developing countries. It also struck me that this most probably would be yet another world summit, with yet another declaration, where diplomats and politicians talked over and discussed important issues at yet another UN meeting, without any actions or concrete results. But – I was wrong. We have followed up on the Millennium Development Goals in general, and in particular on goals number 4 and 5. This time there has not only been words and empty statements. But concrete actions and results, and now we are seeing progress on many fronts.
The reasons are actually quite simple. Firstly, we have mobilized more money. Governments, like my own, have increased spending on global health. Private donors like the Clinton Global Initiative and the Gates Foundation have made considerable and important contributions. The health industry has increased its focus on the global health problems. Tonight I am proud to announce that Norway will increase its commitments to initiatives under Every Woman Every Child by over 100 million US dollars in 2013, subject to parliamentary approval. Secondly, we have become more cost effective – getting more health for the money. I often meet people who dislike the words cost-effectiveness and health in the same sentence, and who insist that cost-effectiveness only applies to road construction and infrastructure projects etc. Well, let me tell you that when we are talking about maternal and child health, it is cost-effectiveness we need! We cannot afford NOT to be cost-effective when we are trying to save human lives. The GAVI initiative for instance uses results-based financing as a tool in child vaccination programs.
Tomorrow, president Jonathan of Nigeria and I will launch the recommendations of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. Our recommendations give practical solutions that will give more health for the money. And solutions that can save the lives of over 6 million women and children over the next five years. The progress we have made is important in itself because we have saved millions of lives, but also because it inspires us to do more with other equally important global challenges.