Improving the lives of women and children: maternal, newborn and child health

Ottawa, Ontario
6 March 2014

Canada is a world leader in promoting the health of women and children in developing countries and in reducing the unacceptable mortality rates that these vulnerable populations face each year. In addition to focusing world attention and resources through the G-8 Muskoka Leaders’ Summit in 2010, Canada has also been instrumental in helping focus global efforts where the needs are most pressing and coordinating how to address those needs most effectively.

To promote further progress on this important issue, on March 6, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada will welcome Canadian stakeholders and experts, as well as global leaders from developed and developing countries, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and foundations to Toronto, Ontario, from May 28-30, 2014, for the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Summit.

The Summit will build on Canada’s leadership in women and children’s health to ensure that saving the lives of mothers and children remains a global priority and that all women, newborns and children can live healthy and productive lives. It will also provide global and Canadian health leaders with the opportunity to come together and build a consensus on where to focus their efforts to maximize results for those in need.

More specifically, the Summit will focus on the critical issues of strengthening health systems and building civil registration and vital statistics systems; reducing the burden of disease on developing countries; scaling up nutrition as a foundation for healthy lives; and building new partnerships with the private sector to leverage innovation and financing.

Canada and the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

In June 2010, G-8 and non G-8 leaders committed $7.3 billion to mobilize global action to reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve the health of mothers and children in the world's poorest countries, through the Muskoka Initiative.

As part of the Muskoka Initiative, Canada committed to providing $1.1 billion in new funding between 2010 and 2015 to help women and children in the world’s poorest countries. Canada also announced it would maintain the ongoing spending of $1.75 billion in maternal, newborn and child health programming during the same period, resulting in a total commitment of $2.85 billion.

Canada’s support through the Muskoka Initiative is being provided to multilateral and global partners such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the GAVI Alliance and the World Health Organization.  

Canada focuses its bilateral efforts in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan and Tanzania where maternal and child mortality rates are high.

Under the Muskoka Initiative Partnership Program, Canada supported the efforts of 28 Canadian organizations to reduce maternal, newborn, and child mortality over three years in Haiti, Africa and Asia.

Canada is on track to meeting its Muskoka commitment, with 80 per cent of the funding already disbursed.

Canada’s efforts within the United Nations (UN)

Canada has taken a leadership role within the UN to improve maternal, newborn and child health. In September 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Jakaya Kikwete, President of the Republic of Tanzania, co-hosted a UN event entitled “Women’s and Children’s Health: The Unfinished Agenda of the Millennium Development Goals”. The event, organized in support of the Every Woman, Every Child Initiative, examined ways to accelerate progress on improving maternal, newborn and child health, and reducing the number of preventable deaths.

In addition to the Every Woman, Every Child Initiative, Canada is a key contributor to the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Jakaya Kikwete also co-chaired the UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health.  In 2011, the Commission issued its report, Keeping Promises, Measuring Results, which included a recommendation to strengthen civil registration and vital statistics systems in developing countries where maternal and child health is at risk.