NEW YORK – The United Nations, in cooperation with world leaders, launched a new task force on maternal mortality in an effort to reduce the number of women who die in pregnancy and childbirth and achieve Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5.
The task force, co-chaired by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and World Bank President Robert Zoellick, will focus on innovative financing to strengthen health care systems and pay for health care workers to potentially save the lives of 10 million women and children by 2015. The group will present their collective recommendations at next year’s G-8 meeting in Italy.
"Despite two decades of efforts, the world failed to make a dent in the high number of maternal deaths," said Margaret Chan, director-general of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and a member of the task force. "We still have time, but just barely, to make up for this failure."
In an effort to work towards achieving MDG 5, the WHO, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and the World Bank issued a joint statement in which they pledged to enhance support over the next five years to countries who have the highest rates of maternal mortality.
"It would cost the world $6 billion, less than a day-and-a-half of military spending, to stop women from dying in childbirth," said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of UNFPA. "We urge all governments to step up funding for reproductive health and save women’s lives."
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