During a June 1 health conference held in Norway, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged their countries’ aid  to a new initiative, “Saving Mothers, Giving Life,” which supports maternal health and aims “to improve the health of mothers and their babies in developing countries” by ensuring proper medical supplies and support during the birthing process and during the first 24 hours after birth. The Maternal Health Taskforce estimates that two out of three maternal deaths and 45 percent of newborn deaths occur in this critical time window.

“Saving Mothers, Giving Life” will begin its efforts in targeted areas of Uganda and Zambia, focusing on strengthening pre-existing health systems and accessibility to necessary medical services, such as staffed 24-hour clinics and reliable midwives and other medical professionals. According to Global Post, the initiative is designed around the important principle of gender equality and ultimately aims “to reduce maternal deaths by 50% in 12 months,” an ambitious goal made more attainable with these proclamations of support from Norway and the US. This initiative is financed by both private and public means, including through pharmaceutical company Merck & Co and nonprofit organization Every Mother Counts.

Reuters notes that although Norway’s $80 million pledge is still pending parliamentary approval, the United States has already committed to a Congress-approved $60 million, with another $15 million requested by the Obama Administration. This is a positive step forward that could act as a catalyst, directing further international attention to the importance of women’s rights and gender equality.

Read the full Reuters article here.

Photo: By Oxfam East Africa (Flickr: Halima Ahmed Ali holds her newborn baby) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 
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