Minimal G8 Maternal Health Initiative sends disturbing message to women and girls

Published: 25th June 2010
Oxfam cautioned that the maternal and child health effort announced on Friday seems yet another empty G8 promise, given that the overall aid pie is shrinking. “The G8 commitment to maternal health is extremely disappointing,” said Robert Fox, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada. “Last year in L’Aquila the G8 committed $22 billion over three years for food security. This year when the focus is on women’s health, they can muster only $5 billion over five years, $7.3 billion, if you include the longer list of donors.” This sends a disturbing message to the women and girls of Africa, Asia and Latin America where nearly 1,000 women die each day in childbirth and in complications related to pregnancy, according to Oxfam. “Sadly, the Canadian government lacks the moral authority to generate global support for its showcase initiative because it has frozen its aid budget for the next five years,” said Fox. “In the end we are left with a painfully thin slice of an ever-shrinking pie. Only by keeping their promises made in Gleneagles will we marshal the resources for bold action to tackle maternal mortality.” Oxfam also warned that with total G8 aid flat-lining, any ‘new’ money for maternal health will have to be taken from vital areas such as education and food. “The G8 is trying to quietly shelve their 2005 promise to deliver $50 billion in extra aid by this year, said Fox. “Leaders must not be allowed to shirk their responsibility to the world’s poor.” Dorothy Ngoma, the Executive Director of the National Organization of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi who traveled to Canada for the Summit acknowledged the importance of focusing on maternal health but questioned how the G8 will find the money. “As a mid-wife, I believe it is crucial to invest in the health of mothers, but I also know the importance of food on the table and clean water to drink. No one should be forced to choose between these. New promises won’t do much good if old ones are ignored.”

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