Maternal Health Thematic Fund is Taking Action!

Maternal Health: Reviewing Progress and Looking Ahead

UNITED NATIONS, New York — Donors, representing both governments and the private sector, today joined UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin and staff to review major achievements made possible by the Maternal Health Thematic Fund in 2010. The thematic fund supports high-impact and low-cost investments in countries with the greatest burden of maternal death and injury.

UNFPA launched the Maternal Health Thematic Fund in 2008 to enhance support to targeted countries – those in which more than 300 mothers die for every 100,000 live births. The approach revolves around strengthening national health systems, rather than creating parallel structures, and in helping governments overcome obstacles that prevent their own maternal health plans from succeeding.

Calling MDG 5 the “mother of all MDGs,” Dr. Osotimehin confirmed UNFPA’s continuing commitment to maternal health in 2011. He pointed to ongoing work to end obstetric fistula and to improve countries’ health workforces, paying particular attention to building capacity in midwifery. Donors endorsed plans to further accelerate progress toward better health for women in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Dr. Osotrimehin also called attention to the upcoming launch of the first-ever State of the World’s Midwifery report — a landmark report that will inform efforts to strengthen health systems around the world.

The 2010 Annual Report of the Maternal Health Thematic Fund – an umbrella fund into which the Campaign to End Fistula and the UNFPA-ICM Midwifery Programme are integrated – was presented to donors at the meeting. The report covers the Thematic Fund’s second full year of operations and reports a number of significant results in supported countries.

A sampling of these include an assessment of Haiti’s emergency obstetric care needs following the January 2010 earthquake, which will contribute to reconstruction; work with the Government of Ethiopia to place maternal health as a central pillar of the country’s new health sector development plan; and major efforts to support several countries’ commitments to the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

This year, UNFPA for the first time jointly launched its 2010 Annual Reports of the Global Programme to Enhance Reproductive Health Commodity Security and the Maternal Health Thematic Fund. “This reflects the increased emphasis on integration between the two thematic funds, while ensuring results in each specific area of UNFPA’s mandate,” noted Werner Hague, Director of UNFPA’s Technical Division.

Donors contributing to the Maternal Health Thematic Fund and fistula and midwifery programmes in 2010 included Austria, Canada, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Spain and Sweden, Americans for UNFPA, Johnson & Johnson, Virgin Unite and Zonta International.

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