By Dr Mirta Roses Periago, Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau;
Dr Francisco Songane, Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health;
September 19, 2008.
For the lives of mothers, newborns, and children
Today is a great day for mothers and children in Latin America and the Caribbean, a day that will be remembered as the turning point in the Region's struggle to translate the commitment to reducing maternal and infant mortality into a reality.
Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador are making history by launching the Act NOW for Women and Children initiative to give real priority to the goal of saving their lives. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and, especially, the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, a great global promoter of this initiative, are honored to support them.
There can be no delay. Every year, over 22,000 women in the Region die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, along with nearly 400,000 children under the age of 5. Worldwide, in the brief time required to read this article, four women who are pregnant or giving birth and 80 boys and girls under 5 will die.
Significantly reducing these two serious problems is part of the Millennium Development Goals, specifically Goals 4 and 5. However, the level of progress made thus far is not enough to achieve them by the target date. Decisive action is needed to accelerate efforts, and we must take it now, according to the Network of Global Leaders, created and led by Norway, in which the Region is represented by President Michelle Bachelet and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The inequality that has historically characterized Latin America and the Caribbean profoundly impacts maternal and infant mortality rates. Rural populations, original peoples, Afro-descendants, and the poor lack timely access to skilled professionals and adequate services for prenatal care, delivery, and the puerperium.
The initiative therefore emphasizes better training in maternal and neonatal management, the training of nurses and midwives to assist with delivery and the management of high obstetric risk, and the sharing of knowledge to provide care in childbirth with a multicultural approach.
It is, moreover, a partnership involving horizontal, or South-South, cooperation, since the participants in this regional initiative are all developing countries. In subsequent stages, in addition to South America, countries of Central America and the rest of the Region will be added.
This initiative enjoys the political commitment essential for change, sustained financing, and a public awareness and community mobilization plan to stimulate the demand for health services -- demand that will be met through training and management activities that will lead to more and better professionals in this field. It is the integrated response of the Region to a silent tragedy and to the ethical imperative of reducing maternal and child mortality, so that, all of us can sing in unison, to paraphrase Violeta Parra, "Thanks to Life."
Article from the Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau and the Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, published in several media
communication in the region at the launching of the "Action NOW for Women and Children", regional initiative that took
place in Santiago de Chile, Chile, with the presence of Michelle Bachelet, President of the Republic of Chile; Jens
Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway; and Dr. Mirta Roses, Director of the Pan American Health
Organization; with the objective of the reduction of maternal and child mortality.
See also: [Spanish version]
Actuemos YA: Por las vidas de las madres, recién nacidos y niños
Actuemos YA por las Mujeres y los Niños. PAHO Press Release.
Briefing video: Regional launching
Caribbean Net News: For the lives of mothers, newborns, and children [09/19/2008]
Nicaragua, La Prensa: Por las vidas de las madres, recién nacidos y niños [09/19/2008]
Argentina, Periodismo Social: Por las vidas de las madres, recién nacidos y niños [09/19/2008]
Bolivia, La Razón: Por las vidas de las madres, recién nacidos y niños [09/21/2008]
Perú, El Peruano: MADRES, RECIÉN NACIDOS Y NIÑOS. Lucha por sus vidas [09/23/2008]
El Salvador, Diario de Hoy: Por las vidas de las madres, recién nacidos y niños [09/27/2008]
Ecuador, El Universo: Por las vidas de las madres, recién nacidos y niños [10/03/2008]