Women Deliver (New York)

Africa: Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly Debates First Resolution on Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health

press release

Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
A mother plays with her young son in the Kenyan village of Mwea.

The 126th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly took place in Kampala, Uganda from March 31 to April 5. This meeting was the first time the IPU has debated a resolution on maternal, newborn and child health.

The resolution was drafted in September by the governments of Canada, India, and Uganda, and is known as 'Access to Health as a Basic Right: The Role of Parliaments in Addressing Key Challenges to Securing the Health of Women and Children.' The IPU Assembly, which meets every year as a focal point for worldwide parliamentary dialogue, drew over 600 members of parliament from more than 120 countries to Kampala, Uganda.

Highlights from the Assembly meeting included UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, and UNICEF Executive Director, Mr. Anthony Lake, speaking separately on the importance of women's and children's health, the role of parliamentarians in improving maternal and child health outcomes, and the importance of good nutrition as a cornerstone of child health. Dr. Pius Okong, representing FIGO and the Board of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) recommended national monitoring and evaluation methods to track country commitments to the Global Strategy for Women and Children's Health.

Other highlights included delegates calling for sanctions on countries whose governments have not worked towards realizing their commitments towards maternal and child health. Ulrika Karlsson, of Sweden, called for an increase in the number of midwives and an increase in access to sexual education for all youth.

According to Martin Chungong, Director, Division for the Promotion of Democracy, there was general support for the provisions of the draft resolution, except for some who called for stronger language. Hon. Paula Turyahikayo, a member of parliament from Uganda, called the discussions "exciting" because of the momentum and interest generated among representatives from so many different countries.

White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) has posted short 5-minute video blogs from the 126th IPU Assembly. The videos include short interviews with key figures, including parliamentarians, and citizens about maternal and newborn health.

The 126th Assembly coincided with Women Deliver's 2012 Africa Regional Consultation, which also took place in Kampala, Uganda on March 27-28, 2012.

More information about the Assembly is available on The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health's website.

WRA has posted updates on Facebook and Twitter, as well as videos on YouTube.

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