To the African Heads of State,
It is a simple truth: The Millennium Development Goals will not be achieved in Africa without addressing sexual and reproductive health. In 2006, recognizing that women and girls deliver enormous social and economic benefits to their families, communities, and nations, the African Union boldly adopted a short-term plan to achieve the MDGs and save women’s lives in their continent: The Maputo Plan of Action. You understood the needs and realities of your countries, you came together, and you adopted a plan that moved sexual and reproductive health higher on Africa’s political agenda. We commend you for taking the lead in addressing sexual and reproductive health, including maternal health and family planning.
Now, the Maputo Plan of Action is about to expire, and we’re calling on you to reenergize your efforts to achieve the goals that you set in 2006. It’s time to build on the legacy of the Maputo Plan, and to move forward with renewed determination to save the lives of millions of women and girls.
At the Summit of the African Union next week, it is time to revisit the Maputo Plan of Action, to recognize the progress that has been made, and to get all African countries onboard the implementation of the plan. In May 2009, the African Union launched the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA). The Maputo Plan of Action and CARMMA represent the two targets of MDG5, reducing maternal mortality and assuring universal access to reproductive health. These complementary efforts will increase the attention and commitment to the end result – achieving MDG5 (and others) by 2015.
We are asking you to recommit to making the Maputo Plan of Action a reality and to moving Africa toward social and economic sustainability. At the Summit of the African Union, we hope you will:
- Invest in family planning – a ‘quick win’ to substantially reduce maternal mortality. The world must commit another US $12 billion a year to fulfill the unmet need for family planning and provide every woman with the recommended standard of maternal and newborn care.
- Prioritize young people to ensure access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services.
- Strengthen health systems, prioritizing sexual and reproductive health through targeting policies, programs, and budgeting.
- Advance and protect human rights for girls and women.
We know how to save the lives of girls and women through cost-effective solutions: family planning programs; skilled care for mothers and newborns before, during, and after childbirth, including emergency obstetric care; and safe abortion, when and where legal. And, we know how women who survive pregnancy and childbirth can deliver for the world. You’ve already set out the plan. Now, we need to work together to implement these solutions so that together we can reduce maternal and newborn deaths and harness that power for increased productivity, strong health systems, empowered girls with greater potential, and a more prosperous world for us all.
Invest in women - it pays!
President, Women Deliver