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Harper Government provides critical nutritional support in Afghanistan to save the lives of mothers and children

April 9, 2013

Children and their parents are better able to play a healthy and active role in their community and contribute to the long-term economic growth of Afghanistan, thanks to investments in health by the Harper Government. Today, Chris Alexander, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence, on behalf of the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, announced a new partnership withSave the Children that will help provide critical nutritional supplements to pregnant and nursing mothers, and children in their first years of life.

"Malnutrition contributes to 190,000 child deaths every year in Afghanistan," said Parliamentary Secretary Alexander following World Health Day on April 7. He highlighted another way Canada is committed to improving the health of those most in need around the world. "Canada's focus on maternal, newborn and child health will ensure that vulnerable mothers and children in Afghanistan receive lifesaving supplements so that they can become healthy and active members of society."

Economic Action Plan 2013 reaffirms Canada's commitment to international development assistance including maternal, newborn and child health. As announced in EAP2013, the Harper Government will enshrine the responsibilities of the Minister and the priority of international development and humanitarian assistance, for the first time ever, into law. The new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development will enhance coordination of international assistance with broader Canadian values and objectives.

This partnership will help improve the nutrition, health, and survival of pregnant and nursing mothers and children under two. The project will also increase awareness among Afghan families on the importance of nutrition for healthy mothers and children. It will also strengthen the capacity of the Afghanistan government to deliver health programs targeted at maternal, newborn and child health.

"There is international evidence—including soon-to-be-released original research by Save the Children—that demonstrates that a significant number of newborn deaths can be prevented with cost-effective interventions," said Patricia Erb, President and CEO of Save the Children. "This new two-year project comes at a critical moment to accelerate progress for newborn survival in Afghanistan by allowing us to bring crucial lifesaving interventions, in particular nutritional support and education, to many more mothers, newborns and children."

Canada remains committed under the Muskoka Initiative to mobilize global action to reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve the health of mothers and children most in need around the world.

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For more information, media should contact:

Daniel Bezalel Richardsen
Press Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Follow us on Twitter: @CIDA_CA