Oh Canada! It’s Good News for Maternal Health

By: Janna Oberdorf, Communications Manager for Women Deliver

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed $1.1 billion in new spending over five years for maternal and child health programs in poor countries, bringing total spending to almost $3 billion, today at the G8 summit.

Canada already devotes $1.75 billion for existing programs to maternal health over the next five years, meaning the additional funds will bring the total mix of new and existing funds to $2.85-billion.

“Accountability is key,” Harper said. “If the countries with most resources won’t take action, who will? We must follow through.”

This is a great start to the G8 meetings. New funding is what we want. We know what it will cost to save the lives of women and mothers: at least $12 billion a year in additional funding for family planning, maternal, and newborn health. Canada should be applauded for putting maternal health at the forefront of the G8 agenda, and for coming through on their promise of funding.

The Director of Communications for Prime Minister Harper, Dimitri Soudas, said this morning that he expected non-G8 countries to contribute to the maternal and child health fund. They must if we expect to meet the $12 billion ask. We need the remaining G8, G20, and governments from the Global South to commit to meet our total funding goal. Maternal mortality is a problem that affects the world. Thus, the world needs to join forces and finances to put a stop to maternal deaths.

I’m looking forward to hearing more commitments as the G8 continues. If Prime Minister Stephen Harper can mobilize funds from his own nation, I hope that he can mobilize funds from the remaining G8 and G20 leaders, and convince them that: Invest in women -- it pays!

“Canada led the way in mobilizing support among G8 and non-G8 leaders, key donors and private foundations for this initiative to reduce the mortality rates of mothers and their children,” said Prime Minister Harper. “We have been successful.”

Between the $1.5 billion pledged by Melinda Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the Women Deliver 2010 conference and Canada's $1.1 billion, we are on our way. But as I mentioned in my last blog post, civil society is watching. Mr. Harper, we WILL hold you accountable in following through on your funding commitment, and the commitments of the other leaders.

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