After a number of recent changes in the global agencies working for mothers’ and babies’ wellbeing, ICM’s role is at the heart of a new and powerful partnership

Launching the partnership for maternal, newborn and child health: after a number of recent changes in the global agencies working for mothers’ and babies’ wellbeing, ICM’s role is at the heart of a new and powerful partnership

Since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed in 2000 to include the two targets of major reduction in mortality of mothers and children, it has repeatedly been said that no new evidence or research is needed–we know what to do, we just need to do it. The World Health Report 2005 stated ‘With today’s knowledge and technology, the vast majority of the problems that threaten the world’s mothers and children can be prevented or treated.’

The Report also described the need to take action as ‘a moral and political imperative’. In other words, it is not the knowledge that is lacking, nor the technology, nor even the resources–but the will to act.

The latest move to establish a truly powerful partnership reflects the recognition that mothers’, babies’ and children’s health is all interdependent, and needs to be maintained as a continuum.

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) has been created from three existing alliances: the Partnership for Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health, based at WHO in Geneva, Switzerland: the Healthy Newborn Partnership, based at Save the Children, USA: and the Child Survival Partnership, based at UNICEF, New York, USA.

The new organisation will be officially launched on September 12, 2005, at the UN’s 2005 World Summit, which is planned to analyse progress towards achievement of the MDGs.

Once launched, the Partnership will be based at WHO in Geneva, and will focus its support on country-level endeavours to expand access to essential interventions for reducing mortality among mothers, babies and children: on advancing the adoption and development of cost-effective, evidence-based approaches to reduce mortality; and promoting greater co-ordination and co-operation among stakeholders.

ICM represents health professionals worldwide

The ICM, which has held the post of co-chair in the two previous global bodies aiming for safer motherhood–the Partnership for Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health and the Inter-Agency Group for Safe Motherhood–continues to take on a major role. In this new partnership, the ICM will represent all the health professionals who are closely concerned with the three areas of care. In particular, the international groups directly represented will be:

* International Federation of Gynecology & Obstetrics (FIGO)

* International Council of Nurses (ICN)

* Council of International Neonatal Nurses (CINN) and the

* International Pediatric Association (IPA).

A signature on a joint statement from each of these bodies, representing their members worldwide, will demonstrate the agreement to support the new Partnership and the drive to reach the MDGs.

September 12–launch day

The launch will be an official event at the UN World Summit and will take place in the morning, at UNICEF House. The stated purpose of the event is to: ‘To raise the profile of maternal, newborn, and child health and to highlight partnership efforts in achieving MDGs 4 and 5, including recent gains from existing partnerships and promising new initiatives.’

Speakers during the launch event will include Ann Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director; Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization; and Mary, Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who will all join in a round table discussion.

Following this, and questions from the media, there will be joint statements presented from the UN agencies (UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS, WHO, and World Bank; from the NGOs (including Save the Children, Family Care International and the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee); and from the health professionals.

The ICM’s Africa regional representative, Kathlyn Ababio, will speak on behalf of the health professionals of the world. Kathlyn, who is currently President of the Ghana Registered Midwives Association, plans to tell the assembly:

‘Health care professionals represent the key human resources for health needed to achieve MDGs 4 & 5. Together we provide hands-on, competent, and compassionate care that improves health and saves lives. We collectively have the capacity and the will to build the needed links between the home and health systems, ensuring that the continuum of care becomes a reality for each person needing such health services.

‘Midwives, nurses, and primary care physicians working at community level facilitate the continuum of care. In addition to providing primary health services and life-saving treatments when needed, they also assure timely transfer to the next level of specialist nursing or medical care. Building such a continuum requires a variety of resources and actions–much the same as any major construction process.

‘Success in meeting the indicators for MDGs 4 & 5 begins with the foundation stones of equity, poverty reduction, and human rights. A smooth transition from home or community into a health system requires a path that is facilitated by many individuals, groups, and agencies.

‘A well-resourced and functioning health system is vital to saving lives as women and children walk along this path. And all barriers to needed services must be removed so that the path becomes a road to health and not a road to death. Successful collaboration among health professionals and other stakeholders provide the evidence of impact on the health of women, newborns, children, and adolescents.”

More news of the PMNCH’s activities wild be published in future issues of IM.

COPYRIGHT 2005 International Confederation of Midwives

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