Low-income countries committing to improving health of mothers and children

The World Health Organization’s Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health, chaired by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) Dean Julio Frenk, released a report highlighting progress made since last year’s United Nations summit meeting on improving women and children’s health. According to the report, 44 of the world’s poorest countries have made financial commitments totaling nearly $11 billion. Additionally, many governments have committed to taking concrete actions such as expanding family planning and access to skilled birth attendants, and reducing or eliminating the cost of health care for women and children.

“The leadership shown by the lowest-income countries in their commitments to improve women’s and children’s health has been outstanding,” Frenk told The Guardian. He told Forbes that those countries are “moving away from the paternalistic to a framework for shared accountability.”

Frenk co-authored an editorial in the Huffington Post with Jan Eliasson, former foreign minister of Sweden, on the systemic changes needed to improve the health of women and children.

“If we are to bring about the drop in mother and child mortality rates that we all wish for, integrated approaches to health and development that cut across artificial institutional barriers are the right way to move forward. With 4,000 children continuing to die every day, just from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, we need to meet this crisis head on — and together,” Frenk and Eliasson wrote.

Read Guardian and Forbes articles

Read Huffington Post editorial

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A Women and Health Agenda: It’s Time (Harvard Public Health Review)