Statement by Minister Paradis on World Health Day

April 7, 2014 – The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, today issued the following statement:

"For the world's poor, there are many possible steps on the path to prosperity and self-empowerment, but it is difficult for them to take these steps without good health and well-being. Children who are malnourished cannot learn as easily or progress with their education, and adults who are ill cannot fully devote their energies to their families and communities. When an adult or child succumbs to a preventable disease, it is a tragedy that is felt by the whole community.

"Much progress has been made in the past few decades to promote the health and wellness of people in the developing world, and on World Health Day, we celebrate this progress. But we must also reflect on what remains to be done.

"Through concerted international efforts over the past quarter century, mortality rates of children under the age of five have fallen by more than 40 percent, and maternal mortality rates have been cut nearly in half. There has also been a steady decline in mortality from malaria and tuberculosis. And an intense focus on the eradication of polio by the global community has reduced the incidence of the disease by more than 99 percent.

"These advances have taken place in a context of increased immunizations for children, widespread access to HIV treatment, better provision of micronutrients, and more effective international cooperation. Canada has been a proud partner in this effort.

"Yet the health challenges that remain are staggering. Worldwide, nearly a billion people suffer from chronic hunger. According to the UNAIDS 2013 Global Report, more than 35 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2012, with 2.3 million new cases. The Roll Back Malaria Partnership states that there were approximately 207 million malaria cases in 2012.

"Children and youth suffer from some of the worst health challenges in the developing world. The World Health Organization estimates that 6.6 million children under the age of five die each year. Most of these deaths result from infections that could be prevented by access to health services, proper nutrition, vaccination, safe water supplies, and sanitation.

"While any investment in health is worthwhile, Canada sees maternal, newborn and child health as the area of greatest need—and where global investment can make the most difference. Children are the future, and protecting their health through nutrition, immunization, and basic health services will help them become healthy and productive adults. Women play central roles as caregivers, leaders and entrepreneurs. Ensuring their health is essential to the overall growth and prosperity of their families, communities, and countries.

"To help ensure the health of women and children remains a top international priority, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will convene a Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Summit, to be held in Toronto in May 2014. This meeting will bring together Canadian experts and global leaders to assess the progress achieved and discuss the way forward. We look forward to working with and learning from these stakeholders as we turn a new page in promoting global health."

Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie