ATLANTA, Ga, May 9 – Global health leaders meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared today that the world's maternal death rates are "unacceptable" and that strengthening national health systems is key to improving them.
At a press conference following the gathering at the Carter Center here, Ban said the group of health experts from civil society, academia, philanthropy and the private sector had "outlined concrete options to make the process of giving birth safer for mothers, and debated concrete means to improve women’s health." The consensus, he said, was that strengthening national health systems would bring the best returns on investment.
The group noted that improving maternal health is the slowest-moving target of the Millennium Development Goals and that a woman still dies every minute from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, the same rate as 20 years ago. "It is unacceptable that over half a million mothers die every year," Ban said. "We must put a stop to these senseless deaths."
Dr. Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, said the world knows what to do. "The resources [needed] are not outrageous," she said. "$10 billion is nothing in our world today to really make a serious impact."
Other participants included Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. He called the session "one of the most important meetings" he would attend this year.
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