'We must make this year one of unprecedented progress': a new UN commitment to the MDGs: high-level meetings in New York, USA, in September 2008 brought renewed pledges for support of maternal and newborn health targets.

 
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The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, and the President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, convened a High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at UN HQ on 25 September 2008. Significant progress has been made, they said, but urgent and increased efforts are needed to meet the Goals by 2015. The Event was a forum for world leaders to review progress, identify gaps, and commit to concrete efforts, resources and mechanisms. The Secretary General said: 'Together, we must make this year one of unprecedented progress for the poorest of the poor.'

Commitment for Mothers, Newborns, and Children

On the same day, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, President Tarja Halonen of Finland and President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania, held a special meeting with the aim 'to kick start a global re-commitment to achieve MDGs 5 (maternal health) and 4 (newborn and child health)'. Organisers included Family Care International, the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health and the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood.

Presidents Bachelet, Halonen and Kikwete asked heads of state, UN agencies and civil society organisations to renew their commitments to maternal and child health and introduce specific initiatives. Their own countries had each taken action to improve maternal and child health: Chile has launched a regional campaign 'Deliver now for women and children' to reduce child mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean; Finland has joined the International Health Partnership (IHP) to promote more a coherent approach to health sector co-operation at the country level; Tanzania has made health care for pregnant women free.

'If men gave birth to children, we would have reached these goals'

'MDGs 4 and 5 are the least likely to be met in virtually all the regions of the world,' said Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The German Federal Minister of Development Co-operation, Heidemarie Weiczorek- Zeul, added, 'What would have happened to MDGs 4 and 5 if men were to give birth to children? We would have reached them.'

Midwives and MDG5

The occasion was an appropriate time for the official launch of the UNFPA and ICM's new initiative to tackle the lack of midwives in developing countries. WHO estimates a need for an additional 334,000 midwives. 'We need some strong advocates who can call on governments to invest in much needed midwives. But we also need...

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