MSH Welcomes the G-8 Muskoka Initiative and Calls on G-20 to Step Up Commitments to Global Health

MSH Welcomes the G-8 Muskoka Initiative and Calls on G-20 to Step Up Commitments to Global Health

The Group of Eight (G-8), holding their annual summit last weekend in Muskoka,Canada, announced a Canadian-led Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Under-Five Child Health (Muskoka Initiative). The Group of 20 (G-20) summit held immediately after in Toronto, resulted in no additional commitments to maternal and child health. MSH believes the G-20 missed an opportunity to support global health when the group did not endorse the G-8’s maternal and child health initiative announced the day before. The G-20 is a group of key finance ministers and central bank governors that meets semi-annually on matters relating to the international financial system.

MSH welcomes the Muskoka Initiative’s focus on “reducing the number of maternal, newborn, and under-five deaths in developing countries by supporting strengthened country-led national health systems” and “access to sexual and reproductive health care including voluntary family planning.” MSH also welcomes the Initiative’s approach to “increased and integrated investments in HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and neglected tropical diseases” and focused efforts on training of medical personnel in Africa and other regions. The Muskoka Initiative also requires “integrated interventions at the community level across the continuum of care, i.e., pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, childbirth, infancy, and early childhood.” It also includes antenatal care, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV; immunizations and basic nutrition, safe water and sanitation, among other interventions for women and children.

MSH works closely with ministries of health, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and other partners in 30 countries to expand the use of health interventions that are known to save lives and improve maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH). Our expertise spans four broad areas: mobilizing resources and aligning donor strategies to maximize the impact of health investments; promoting community-based approaches to MNCH services; integrating MNCH services into family planning and other primary health care services; and helping governments to rebuild health systems and strengthen the quality of MNCH services.

The Muskoka Initiative outlines an approach to accelerate progress towards Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 which seek to reduce by two-thirds the under-five child mortality rate, and reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio.

The $7.3 billion, five-year Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn, child and reproductive health, championed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, received mixed reactions from international NGOs. The $7.3 billon includes $2.3 billion in money from private foundations and non- G8 countries. Some argue that the $7.3 billion effort is insufficient, having expected the world's richest nations to follow through on a commitment to give $10 billion to their poorer counterparts. The US committed an initial 2-year $1.3 billion, subject to the approval of Congress, as their share.

MSH welcomes the focus on accountability for health commitments in 2011 of the Muskoka Initiative, and on evidence-based interventions. However, MSH looks forward to an increase in funding for maternal, newborn and child health because as long as one woman or child dies from preventable measures that's one too many, the group said.

MSH also welcomed the G-8’s reaffirmed commitment to “universal access to prevention, treatment, care, and support with respect to HIV/AIDS” and the commitment to “promote integration of HIV and sexual and reproductive health, rights and services within the broader context of strengthening health systems.”

MSH looks forward to further discussions on the UN-led process toward developing a Joint Action Plan to Improve the Health of Women and Children and the September 2010 UN High Level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in New York City.

The G8 brings together heads of state and other leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union in a multilateral forum to discuss major challenges facing the world including the economy, trade, climate change and food security.

The Muskoka Initiative was developed in consultation with the UN, the WHO, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, the Countdown to 2015, and others.

Read a full copy of the G-8 communiqué.