Canada Supporting Important Measures to Save Lives of Mothers and Children in the Developing World
June 03, 2021

Our Government has made saving the lives of mothers and children living in the world’s poorest countries a priority. In fact, we’ve taken a leadership role in this area with initiatives such as the Muskoka Initiative, which was a commitment by the G-8, in June 2010, to address the significant gaps existing in maternal, newborn, and child health in developing countries. More recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, endorsed the final report, Keeping Promises, Measuring Results, of the United Nations Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health. This key report builds on Canada’s work and includes compelling and practical measures to help save the lives of mothers and children of the world’s poorest countries.

According to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), each year hundreds of thousands of women die during pregnancy or childbirth and nearly nine million children die before reaching the age of five. A large number of these deaths could be prevented through cost-effective and evidence-based measures.

Canada is doing its best to help reduce the number of deaths of mothers and children by being part of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, launched on December 16, 2010, by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The mandate of the Commission (co-chaired by Prime Minister Harper) was to develop recommendations for greater accountability by donor countries, multilateral organizations, private foundations, and developing countries in the delivery of resources that save lives of mothers and children. The aim of this initiative was to ensure that the funding commitments made in the UN Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, totalling $40 billion over five years, to save 16 million lives in the world’s 49 poorest countries, were maintained.    

The Global Strategy emerged in response to concerns that progress towards the two Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) dealing specifically with the health of women and children, MDGs 4 and 5, were the farthest from being reached by 2015. During the G-8 Summit, held last year, the Muskoka Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiative was announced by Prime Minister Harper and is part of the Global Strategy. The Muskoka Initiative represents Canada’s commitment (and the other members of the G-8) to do more to ensure the gaps in maternal, newborn, and child health in developing countries is closed.

The Commission’s report includes 10 recommendations calling for an unprecedented level of accountability from all donors and developing countries. It also establishes actions under three main areas to produce: 1) better information for better results; 2) better tracking of resources for women’s and children’s health; 3) better oversight of results and resources nationally and globally. Furthermore, the report includes recommendations for a common set of health indicators to be used for: monitoring and reporting on maternal, newborn, and child health; the national registration of births, deaths, and causes of death; and national and global oversight of country-level progress to support continuous improvement in the delivery of health services.

The Keeping Promises, Measuring Results report reinforces Canada’s staunch commitment to help save the lives of mothers and children in the developing world. Our Government will include the recommendations in its own work, while also assisting developing countries in adopting these measures into their own national plans.