7 June 2010

Africa: 3,000 Experts in U.S. for Women's Health

With the theme, "Delivering Solutions for Girls and Women," the conference, according to organisers, will examine the urgent need to save the lives of the 350, 000 -500, 000, women who die from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes each year.

Accordingly, the conference will assess the progress made so far, challenges and ways to increase funding commitments for maternal, reproductive, and newborn health.

"Women deliver enormous social and economic benefits to their families, communities, and nations," said Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver. "We've made great progress on maternal health in many areas of the world, but our leaders need to realize that this issue is at the core of global development, economic well-being, and even national security. When women survive, families-and societies-thrive," she said.

All over the world, health experts are of the opinion that maternal deaths are preventable since cost-effective solutions to prevent maternal deaths already exist. The Guttmacher Institute and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimate that ensuring access to modern contraception could prevent up to a third of maternal deaths.

An estimated 215 million women worldwide want to avoid or delay pregnancy, but are not using effective contraceptives. According to them, ensuring access to skilled care before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth, including emergency obstetric care, is another critically needed solution.

The Institute also said access to safe abortion, when and where legal, will also help to reduce maternal mortality; even as it says currently nearly 70,000 women die each year from unsafe abortion.

Expected to grace the occasion are United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, Melinda Gates, Arianna Huffington, Christiane Amanpour, Ashley Judd, and Christy Turlington.

The meeting's location in Washington represents the return of the US as a strong partner in promoting global maternal and reproductive health. The conference comes at a critical moment, three weeks before the G8 Summit, where host country Canada has made it a major focus.

Women Deliver 2010 is a global conference bringing together leaders from around the world to call for action against maternal death. The conference will highlight achievements in reducing maternal mortality, breakthroughs in reproductive technology, the role of women's health in development, and remaining obstacles to improving maternal health around the world.

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