Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Bill Gates (Wednesday) in Ottawa to discuss how to further leverage the strong leadership that Canada has demonstrated in promoting maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) in order to ensure that it remains a global development priority and a prominent feature of the global post-2015 development agenda. They were joined by Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, as well as global health leaders representing Canadian and international organizations that are committed to advancing significant progress and achieving results on MNCH.
While tremendous progress has been made to save the lives of the world’s most vulnerable citizens – women and children – much work remains to be done. To this end, the Prime Minister and Mr. Gates together renewed the call for focused global political leadership and sustained financial commitments to ensure that MNCH remains a central development priority as the world moves beyond 2015.
The Prime Minister also reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to support immunization as a key pillar of Canada’s MNCH strategy by announcing new investments toward improving access to vaccines for mothers and children. These investments are aimed at eradicating polio and eliminating tetanus, as well as providing support to 20 implementation research teams, made up of African and Canadian researchers, who will contribute to improving maternal and child health in Africa.
During a moderated discussion, the Prime Minister and Mr. Gates discussed the unprecedented global progress that has taken place since the establishment of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals in 2000. Fifteen years later, the world stands on the verge of ending the preventable deaths of mothers and children under five within a generation, in large part due to the leadership and commitment of international partners such as the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have a long history of successful collaboration in support of international development. In June 2010, under Prime Minister Harper’s leadership, world leaders launched the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, which focused on saving the lives of mothers, newborns and children under the age of five in developing countries.
- During the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in May 2014, Canada committed to support MNCH between 2015 and 2020, creating renewed global momentum to advance MNCH as a global priority and prioritized Canada’s commitment to three areas: strengthening of health systems, improving nutrition, and reducing the burden of leading diseases.
- Canada’s commitment aims to tackle emerging challenges, by providing greater emphasis on nutrition and better reaching children in the fragile first month of life, stepping up immunization efforts and building civil registration and vital statistics systems.
- Canada is a proud supporter of immunization programming to ensure that every child has access to important life-saving vaccines. This includes commitments made at the 2013 Global Vaccine Summit towards the eradication of polio, which the polio “endgame strategy” expects to achieve by 2018.
- In May 2014, the Government of Canada also launched the Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa program, a partnership between Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, the International Development Research Centre and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
- The lives of more than five million mothers and children have been saved in developing countries since 2010 due in large part to the global effort to improve maternal, newborn and child health.
“Canada’s top development priority remains eliminating the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children in developing countries. While significant progress has been made, more can and must be done to sustain the momentum and end these preventable deaths within our lifetime. Our Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been steadfast partners in championing this cause, and remain committed to ensuring that all women and children can live healthy and productive lives. Together, we will continue to call on the international community to renew their commitment and support to ensure our global efforts remain focused on eliminating preventable maternal and child deaths.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper