African Commitments to Global Women and Children's Health

Published on 30th October 2011

African Speakers of Parliaments and Presidents of Senate have unanimously adopted a landmark resolution on a Declaration of Commitment to prioritise parliamentary support for increased policy and budget action on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in African countries.

The milestone Declaration of Commitment was adopted at the 3rd Pan African Speakers Conference 17th – 18th October, which was convened by the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. In the communiqué issued at the end of the conference, the Speakers committed to “prioritize policy and budget support for implementation of African Union Summit Decisions, in particular the … Kampala July 2010 Summit Declaration on the Summit theme of “Actions on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Development in Africa.”

The commitment is the first of its kind by African Speakers of Parliament, and marks a significant milestone in accelerating progress in Africa towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 on Child and Maternal Health, respectively. It also promises high-level parliamentary support to hasten implementation of the Africa Parliamentary Policy and Budget Action Plan on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, agreed by Chairs of Finance and Budget committees of national parliaments in October 2010.

Presiding over the adoption of the resolution, the Pan-African Parliament President Hon. Dr. Moussa Idriss Ndélé emphasized that “Parliamentary support is crucial for successful implementation of African Union Summit Decisions and African development priorities.”

In July 2010, the African Union heads of states and governments made far-reaching commitments towards maternal and infant health at a high-level summit held in Kampala, Uganda.

The landmark commitment by African Speakers will contribute towards ending the preventable tragic annual death of over 4 million African children under the age of 5; the annual death of an estimated 189,000 African women due to child birth related complications, and injury of millions more due to poor health care; and avoidable tragedy of an estimated 370,000 African children born with HIV every year.

Thanking the Speakers of Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament for their milestone action on Maternal and Child Health, Mr. Rotimi Sankore, Secretary of the Africa Public Health Parliamentary Network, stated in his presentation during the Speakers conference that: “We look forward to working with parliaments on accelerated action to end the tragedy of an estimated over 45 million deaths of African children under the age of 5 years over the last decade since the Millennium Declaration in 2000; an estimated death of at least 1.9 million women from child birth related causes in the same period; and the birth of an estimated 3.7 million children born with HIV. While there has undoubtedly been significant progress over the past decade, this level of mortality indicates that the progress is not yet fast enough, and we all need to work more urgently to implement African and global targets.”

In his presentation to the Speakers of Parliament during their conference, the Africa Regional Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Mr. Bunmi Makinwa underlined UNFPA’s commitment to strengthen its work with, and enhance capacity of the Pan African Parliament and country parliaments in implementing MNCH programmes stating: “We will work more closely with the Pan African Parliament and your respective national parliaments to intensify the commitment and financial support to Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Development in your respective countries.”

Mr. Makinwa also called on the Speakers of Parliament to “become champions of the AU Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (CARMMA) in your respective countries and constituencies; and Increase budgetary allocations to health in your respective parliaments.”[To date, CARMMA, which is the African Union Commission, led campaign to create awareness and remove policy, resource and cultural barriers that inhibit access to Maternal and Child Health Services has been launched in 36 African Countries].

Global health experts and campaigners welcomed the commitment of African Speakers and reiterated that parliaments have a significant role to play in strengthening policy and budgetary support towards maternal and infant health in Africa.

Dr. Carole Presern, Director of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, commended the Speakers’ Declaration of Commitment as “an important step by African parliamentary leaders towards saving and improving lives of millions of African women and children. This also underscores the positive role that parliaments can play globally in saving the lives of women and children that die from preventable causes.”

This Declaration of Commitment by Speakers of Parliament is based on the resolution to the Speakers from the 5th Session of the 2nd Pan African Parliament held on 3rd-14th October, in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, urging speakers of Parliament in the continent to prioritize the implementation of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health programs.

The Africa Public Health Parliamentary Network, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the global Partnership on Maternal Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) worked closely with the Pan African Parliament in the lead-up to this Speakers Commitment.

Courtesy: African Union

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