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The Bank Account Grows: G8 Commits $5 Billion to Maternal and Child Health

Yesterday, I wrote about how Canada committed $1.1 billion to maternal and child health at the G8 Summit in Muskoka, Canada. Now, the other 7 G8 nations have added to the pot to increase the funding to $5 billion. Plus, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UN Foundation got in on the action with $2.3 billion worth of pledges to make the grand total $7.3 billion dollars. That’s a pretty darn good day for moms and their babies.

When asked if the Canadian people would be okay with their tax dollars being spent this way, Prime Minister Harper said, “Of all things we could spend our money on, who wouldn’t want to spend to save the life of a mother who would otherwise die?”

Though Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wouldn’t name names, or talk about how much each country committed, The Globe and Mail reported the numbers as:

  • Britain = $300 million a year for two years
  • US = $1.3 billion over two years (subject to Congressional approval)
  • Germany = $500 million
  • Japan about $500 million
  • France about $400 million
  • Italy = unknown, but likely less than the others

The problem is that these funds don’t cover the additional $12 billion a year that is needed to provide every woman with the recommended standard of maternal and newborn care. That’s why we must look at these commitments as a good start. Hopefully, these pledges are just the beginning. Hopefully, this will encourage other nations, especially developing nations themselves, to increase and commit new funding. And hopefully, the pledging isn’t over. We need ALL the nations of the world to step up.

As for G20 leaders, whose summit begins today and does not explicitly prioritize maternal health, but instead addresses international economic development, I say: The answer is right next to you. Women drive economic development. They operate the majority of small businesses and farms in developing countries and their unpaid work at home equals about 1/3 of world GDP. When women are allowed to die in pregnancy and childbirth, we lose as much as US $15 billion dollars in productivity. Is this not an important part of international economic development? As the advocates around me are chanting: Invest in women, it pays.

To learn more about maternal health, click here.

Filed by Janna Oberdorf June 26, 2010

Photo credit: Lynsey Addario/Women Deliver

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