This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Jonathan, Norway PM Predict 'Tipping Point' for Maternal, Child Health

President Goodluck Jonathan and the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, have said this year will be "a tipping point for change" and global awareness for saving more lives, especially those of women and children.

The two leaders, who are co-chairs of the United Nations Saving Life Commodities for Women and Children, in a joint report presented in Oslo, Norway Tuesday, also praised Nigeria's initiative of saving one million lives.

The report, tagged: "Accelerating Progress in Saving the Lives of Women and Children", provides an update on the significant developments and new commitments since 2010, when the United Nations Secretary-General launched the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health.

In the report, the leaders praised the development made while pursuing the goals 4 and 5 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 4-child health-and 5-maternal health).

According to them, "the number of child deaths is down from about 12 million in 1990 to 7 million in 2011 and maternal deaths are down from 500,000 in 1990 to under 300,000 in 2010."

As a result, the two leaders argued, that the number of children's lives saved every year through joint efforts was close to the number born each year in Nigeria-or equivalent to the whole population of Norway.

"Nevertheless, we are off-track to reach our goals of reducing child deaths by 67 per cent and maternal deaths by 75 per cent by 2015," they both admitted.

However, they pointed out, recent initiatives held the promise to accelerate the progress made to date.

"Such national initiatives as Saving-One-Million-Lives-in-Nigeria, the National Rural Health Mission of India and Safe Motherhood in Malawi are characterised by strong national political backing at the highest level and clear national priority setting," the co-chairs wrote in their joint overview, "a tipping point for change: saving millions more lives in 2013 and beyond."

"It sets out how initiatives would be further developed in a coordinated and effective manner, with a view to accelerating the significant progress that is now being made in reducing maternal and child deaths.

"In advance of the release of this Global report on January 22, I thought to share it with you. Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan co-authored the Overview section, while UN Secretary General wrote forward and President Barack Obama, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Prime Minister Harper of Canada, Prime Minister of Indonesia among selected global leaders wrote one page each.

"You will note both the UNSG, Mr. President's piece, as well as thrust of the report make the point that Nigeria's SOML initiative is an excellent approach in the right direction.

"The report will receive wide publicity internationally as from Tuesday, when Mr. President and PM Norway are likely to have a short piece published in the prestigious The Lancet medical journal.

"Given your important role in the Nigeria health sector, I thought to share with you so that you disseminate this global report positive about Nigeria domestically.

"You will recall Mr. President launched the SOML in October, we are making progress and pushing on maternal and child health, polio eradication routine immunisation, PMTCT, essential commodities such as zinc/ors, chlorhexidine etc, malnutrition, health amongst others," the report stated.

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