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Intensified efforts to promote maternal and child health

Every year, almost 300 000 women die in connection with pregnancy and childbirth, and 6.9 million children die from preventable diseases. Many of these women and children could be saved if they had access to simple and affordable medicines. The Government proposes an additional allocation of NOK 650 million to significantly step up Norway’s efforts in the area of maternal and child health.

 

“In many parts of the world, the day of birth is one of the most dangerous times in the life of a woman and her child. Far too many mothers and newborns die due to a lack of health services and simple, affordable medicines. This is a tragedy for the families concerned, but also for the international community. Over six million women and children will die over the next five years if they do not gain access to cheap and simple life-saving commodities. Together with our international partners, we are therefore significantly stepping up our efforts in this area next year,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

In the poorest countries, only 50 % of women give birth in a maternity clinic or hospital. Only 50 % of these maternity clinics and hospitals have reliable access to medicines that prevent women from bleeding to death during childbirth. Norway will focus its efforts on this issue.

Given the consent of the Storting, the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children will be allocated an additional NOK 300 million, while Norway’s cooperation with the US on the maternal health initiative Saving Mothers, Giving Life will be allocated NOK 100 million. NOK 150 million will be allocated to intensified efforts to promote family planning services. The GAVI Alliance, which seeks to increase access to immunisation in poor countries, will receive an additional allocation of NOK 100 million.

When the additional allocation of NOK 650 million is included, Norway’s total contribution to global health in 2013 will be NOK 2.4 billion.

Currently, over 200 million women and girls do not have access to the family planning services they themselves would like to have. Among the measures that can be used to address this are improving purchasing routines and using communications technology such as mobile phones, both within the health service and as a means of providing the women concerned with information.

“Access to contraception is essential if women are to have control over their own bodies and be able to decide when they want to have children. Norway is also at the forefront internationally when it comes to supporting education for girls. Contraception and education empower girls and give them opportunities,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås.

The proposed increase in Norway’s allocation to maternal and child health will be part of our follow-up of the UN Secretary-General’s global strategy for women’s and children’s health and the Government’s white paper on global health.

 

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