To the Leaders of the G8,
Ten years ago, your governments signed and agreed to the UN Millennium Development Goals, including MDG 5 to improve maternal health. With only five years to the 2015 deadline, MDG 5 is significantly off-track. If we are to reach MDG 5 by 2015, the time is now to take action and implement proven strategies and solutions to save the lives of women and girls worldwide. It is time for progress, not just promises. It is time to deliver for women.
Earlier this month, we gathered 3,400 delegates from around the world to discuss the solutions for saving the lives of between 350,000-500,000 women and girls who die during pregnancy and childbirth every year. We organized the Women Deliver 2010 global conference with the goal of placing maternal health at the forefront of the global health agenda, and highlighting the need for increased investment and comprehensive, life-saving interventions. Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, called the Women Deliver 2010 conference “the most significant event for the future of women and children in 20 years." The 3,400 participants of the Women Deliver 2010 conference agreed:
- Women deliver enormous social and economic benefits to their families, communities, and nations.
The well-being of women determines the well-being of a country. Decades of research confirm that a health system that can deliver reproductive health care to girls and women throughout their life cycle is a strong system that delivers for everyone. When a woman becomes ill or dies from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, it often pushes her family further into poverty; her productivity falls; family income, nutrition and caregiving decline; and her children, especially her daughters, may be taken out of school to work or maintain the household. Pregnancy-related death of women and newborns costs the world at least $15 billion in lost productivity every year.
- Maternal deaths are preventable. We have cost-effective solutions.
We celebrate the recent news that there has been a decrease in maternal and newborn deaths as proof that implemented programs and policies are working and must be sustained through increased funding and government support. But despite these rates dropping, too many women are still dying or becoming seriously injured from complications due to pregnancy and childbirth.
We know what works to save lives:
• Family planning programs
• Skilled care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth, including emergency obstetric care, for mothers and newborns
• Safe abortion, when and where legal
Delivering these solutions requires that we:
• Prioritize young people, delivering comprehensive sexuality education
• Strengthen national health systems that deliver for women, also providing prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS
• Advance, implement and protect the human rights of women and girls
- With another $12 billion a year, the world can deliver for girls and women.
Increased and sustained funding is needed to support the above interventions, while also scaling up tracking and accountability mechanisms within health systems, increasing the number of skilled health workers and placing a particular focus on the poor and marginalize
Investing another US $12 billion a year (for a total of US $24 billion) would fulfill the unmet need for family planning and provide every woman with the recommended standard of maternal and newborn care. As a result, unintended pregnancies would reduce by over 66%, 70% of maternal deaths and 44% of newborn deaths would be prevented, and unsafe abortion would reduce by 73%.
We know how to save women’s lives, and how women in turn deliver for their families, communities, countries and the world. G8 members have the opportunity to drive momentum towards reaching the MDGs. We call on you to increase funding to meet the US $12 billion a year gap. We need your help to implement these solutions now, so that together we can turn maternal and newborn deaths into 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