Canada’s Prime Minister Highlights Maternal Health

Ottawa, Canada - Canada's Prime Minister Stephan Harper is highlighting the healthcare plight of mothers and infants in the developing world as a means of transforming the role of the G8 club of wealthy countries.

Harper is asking the group to focus on development and international security issues and he's hoping maternal and child health will become Canada's "signature" focus at the G8 meeting. Since the G20 has usurped the G8's role as an economic forum, the Prime Minister is hoping these development issues can take center stage at the G8 meetings.

"Members of the G8 can make a tangible difference in maternal and child health and Canada will be making this the top priority in June," Mr. Harper said in a statement. "Far too many lives and unexplored futures have already been lost for want of relatively simple health care solutions."

This summer will mark the first time both summits are held in quick succession - the G8 in Muskoka, Ont., and the G20 in Toronto in the period of June 25-27. Because of this, Mr. Harper is seeking to put a distinctly Canadian stamp on the gathering and restore the influence and relevance of the G8.

Maternal and child health are topics new to the Prime Minister's agenda, but provide a link to the G8's past development promises. At the 2005 G8 summit in Kananaskis, Alberta, the wealthy nations promised to double aid to poorer countries, notably in Africa, and a report on progress is due at the June summit. Mr. Harper is also expected to use his Davos speech to underline the need for G20 countries to move ahead with financial reforms.

Find out more about the G8 and G20 here.
Read an op-ed on how the G8 can help curb maternal mortality here.