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Africa | World
Gender - Women | Health

"Invest in a woman, save a child, save the world"

afrol News, 16 April - A global movement for maternal and child health could be an answer to fast-tracking the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

This was the view of the UN Deputy Secretary General, Asha-Rose Migiro, saying that fast-tracking could be modelled similar to the movement launched in response to HIV which united countries, civil society, donors and affected people.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General has also called for greater investment to ensure the health and wellbeing of women, stressing that healthy women can lead to better families and societies, and help achieve the globally agreed development targets with a 2015 deadline.

"We need to tell people that it pays to invest in women - that investing in the health and rights of women triggers greater progress for all," Ms Migiro said at a working dinner on maternal health held outside of New York City that was attended by UN officials, senior government officials and policymakers.

The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 - just one of eight ambitious targets set by world leaders in 2000 to slash a host of social ills by 2015 - aims to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters.

"We must meet our obligations to the world's women and children. We must do so not just to achieve MDG 5," Ms Migiro stated.

"We must do so because healthy women are the answer to solving many of the world's most complex and pressing problems: poverty, hunger, disease, and political instability. Healthy women are the foundation upon which all of the Millennium Development Goals stand."

Earlier the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had announced the development of a Joint Action Plan for accelerating progress on maternal and newborn health that will bring together governments, foundations, the corporate sector, civil society and UN agencies in a targeted effort to improve the health of women and children.

Ms Migiro noted that protecting pregnant women will lead to progress beyond MDG 5.

"When women have access to family planning, they typically have smaller, healthier families. When women are healthy, and their rights are protected, they are more productive. They generate income, which helps build strong communities and societies.

"And when women have control over resources, they invest more in children's health, nutrition and education. Such investments can break the cycle of poverty," she stated.

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