Improving the health of mothers, newborns and children and reducing the number of preventable deaths are top priorities for Canada. On the margins of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in the Fall of 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper co-hosted a high-level meeting on women's and children's health, identifying maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) as Canada's "flagship development priority."
Each year, hundreds of thousands of women die during pregnancy or childbirth and, in 2012, 6.6 million children died before reaching the age of five. Many of these deaths can be prevented by cost-effective, evidence-based interventions.
In 2010, as part of its G-8 presidency, Canada launched a global effort—the Muskoka Initiative—to mobilize global action to reduce maternal, infantmortality and improve the health of mothers and children in the world's poorest countries.
Canada is providing $1.1 billion in new funding between 2010 and 2015. Canada is also providing $1.75 billion in ongoing spending on maternal and child health programming, a total contribution of $2.85 billion.
In November 2010, Canada outlined how its $2.85 billion contribution to the Muskoka Initiative would be organized. Through the MNCH initiative, funding follows three integrated paths, focuses on ten countries and involves multilateral, global and Canadian partners.
Strengthening health systems to improve service delivery to maternal, newborn and child health at the local level by training more health workers and increasing access to adequately equipped local health centres. Canada is working with country partners to:
Reducing the burden of leading diseases affecting mothers and children. Canada is supporting the provision of life-saving medicines, vaccines, and actions needed to prevent and treat the prevalent diseases and illnesses that are the main causes of maternal and child mortality.
Improving nutrition by increasing access to healthy and nutritious food, and essential micronutrient supplements that improve and save lives. Canada supports initiatives that improve nutritional health by:
Canada's geographic investments focus on countries with high child and maternal morbidity and mortality rates, that have demonstrated they can make progress on maternal, newborn and child health. In these countries, Canada works to increase access to health centres at the local level and ensure its sustainability over the long term. Canada focuses its efforts on the following 10 countries:
With multilateral and global partners, such as UN agencies, Canada works in countries where the need is greatest across the three paths of the initiative. Canada continues to support the following:
Canadian partners engage the expertise of health practitioners and extensive networks of local civil society organizations to address local and national health priorities. Through community-based efforts to reduce maternal and child morbidity and mortality, they can extend the reach of national health services to rural and underserved areas. In many high-burden countries, civil society organizations provide the main platform by which to reach vulnerable groups and are able to respond in a timely and effective way to needs identified by communities.
Launched on November 2, 2010, the Muskoka Initiative Partnership Program is providing $82 million from 2010 to 2015 to partner-driven projects that deliver concrete development results in countries with high rates of maternal and child morbidity and mortality. Results include:
In addition, a $1.8 million project with the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health is working to increase effectiveness, collaboration and coordination among more than 60 Canadian organizations engaged in MNCH initiatives.
For more information on specific MNCH projects supported by Canada in various countries and regions around the world, please visit the Project Browser.