Norway in forefront to improve health for women and children

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre at podium) attends a high-level meeting on the theme, Investing in Our Common Future: Healthy Women, Healthy Children, chaired by Gordon Brown (second from right ,on podium), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and Robert Zoellick (second from left, on podium), President of the World Bank. The event was hosted by the Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems, also co-chaired by the Prime Minister and Bank President. Also at the meeting were: Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (left, on podium), President of the United Republic of Tanzania; and Jens Stoltenberg (right), Prime Minister of Norway. UN Photo/Mark Garten.

At a meeting at the UN in New York on September 23, rich and poor countries pledged a total of USD 5.3 billion to improve the health of mothers and children in the world’s 49 poorest countries.

“Worldwide a child dies every three seconds; a mother dies in pregnancy or childbirth every minute. These lives may be saved if mothers are able to give birth in clinics. That is why Norway in 2008 granted NOK 3.1 billion to establish good health care for newborn children and mothers in developing countries. This includes health sector support targeted for women and particular deceases,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said at today’s meeting at the UN.

Mr. Stoltenberg has for several years been engaged in saving children in developing countries by vaccination and by improving health services for pregnant women. In total Norway will contribute NOK 2.8 billion in 2007-2009, to reach UN Millennium Goals 4 and 5 on reducing maternal and child mortality.

Norway intends to enhance this engagement. At today’s meeting at the UN Prime Minister Stoltenberg announced that Norway will extend its annual support of NOK 500 million for Millennium Goals 4 and 5 until 2020; five years beyond what has already been promised. This comes in addition to Norwegian programme grants through the High Level Task Force on Innovative Financing for Health Systems.

In 2007 Norway established a World Bank fund to finance good health care for women and children. The country now has cooperation programmes on maternal and child health with India, Pakistan, Tanzania and Nigeria. In 2008 Prime Minister Stoltenberg visited the Indian state of Rajasthan, where Norway cooperates with Indian health authorities on a new system where women are paid to give birth at health clinics rather than at home. This has increased the number of women giving birth at clinics. India has had a leading role in introducing this new system.

“The fact that more women are giving birth at clinics has drastically reduced maternal mortality. It is vital to spend grants in a way securing that health services may reach as many as possible,” Stoltenberg says. As these programmes have had good effects, Norway will now increase its grants for the fund.

“We have seen good results, but the goal has not been reached yet. More money is needed for good health programmes, and we need to see an even more efficient use of the money,” the Prime Minister says.


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