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Increased Innovative Financing, Strong Partnerships Key to Ending Preventable Deaths of Women and Children, Secretary-General Says at High-Level Event

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the High-level Event on “Every woman, every child”, in New York today:

I am delighted to be here as we reflect on the progress made since we launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health in September 2010.

I am deeply committed to this cause personally and professionally.  My commitment will be further strengthened by your strong support and engagement.  I am very happy and very much encouraged by your strong support, as well as your personal presence here today.  This big conference hall is full of the leaders who are really working for gender empowerment, and thank you for your leadership and your strong commitment.

You have heard me in the past [speak] about my own experiences as a child, losing one of my brothers and sisters, and hearing stories from my mother about how women feared childbirth.  As Secretary-General, my travels have exposed me to needless suffering around the world, by many women and girls.

I have met many women and children who have to fight unimaginable obstacles to survive and be healthy.  That is why the health of women and children is a personal cause to me, because I have seen for myself during my childhood.  And through the Global Strategy and “Every woman, every child” movement, I know it has become personal to you, as well.

When we devised the Global Strategy, we knew then that not enough was being done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) number 4, 5 and 6.  We knew we had to build a transformative global partnership through the “Every woman, every child” movement.

Five years later, that partnership is thriving and growing.  More than 300 organizations, from Governments to civil society, academic groups and the private sector, have made over 400 specific commitments to advance the health and well-being of women and children.

Central to this work has been a focus on innovation, including in financing, and accountability for resources and results.  The Global Strategy has also focused attention on often-neglected and under-resourced areas of women’s and children’s health, such as newborn survival, family planning, adolescent health needs and life-saving commodities.  It has also helped to strengthen political commitment and consolidate efforts.

Because of our collective endeavour, more women and children are surviving than ever before.  Since 2010 alone, the world has saved the lives of some 2.4 million women and children.  More children are receiving medicines to combat diarrhoea; more babies are receiving proper nutrition and the health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.

More women are giving birth in a health facility, more women and girls are receiving the sexual and reproductive health services they want and need, and more pregnant women are receiving anti-retrovirals to prevent HIV transmission to their babies.  I am very proud of what has been achieved.  This young, dynamic partnership has already developed real momentum.  Our task now is to maintain and build on that momentum, complete the unfinished health MDGs, end the appalling tragedy of preventable deaths and invest in the futures of women, children and adolescents.

Many leaders are already working hard on this and understand that if we work together we can do even more and faster and better.  We also recognize that we must go beyond the health sector and partner with those working on education, women’s empowerment, energy, nutrition, water and sanitation.  And we must seek new ways to reach those most vulnerable and hardest to reach, especially those in conflict settings and those with humanitarian needs.

With the momentum we have built and the lessons we have learned since 2010, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of women and children.  Through continued political commitment, an increase in innovative financing and strong partnership we can realistically end the preventable deaths of women and children within a generation wherever they live.

We started something special as a community in 2010.  We must now ensure we see this through to the end together.  Let us pledge today to work with renewed vigour and intention so that no woman should fear death while giving life, no child should die from causes we know how to prevent, and that they all are able to thrive.  Let’s work together to make everybody’s life with dignity.

For information media. Not an official record.