Canadian Leadership Saving the Lives of Women and Children Around the World

Canada’s ongoing support to the Micronutrient Initiative is improving the health of women and children in the developing world

April 29, 2014 - Ottawa, Ontario - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, highlighted today Canada’s leadership role in improving the health of women and children in developing countries. The Minister delivered his remarks on Parliament Hill, while attending “Live Below the Line,” an event co-hosted by the Micronutrient Initiative, RESULTS Canada, and Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development.

“Since declaring it to be our top development priority, Canada has been instrumental in drawing global attention, and resources, to advancing maternal and child health,” said Minister Paradis. “Global action, kick-started by the launch of the Canadian-led Muskoka Initiative, has saved countless lives and improved the health of millions of mothers, newborns and children across the developing world.” 

“Live Below the Line helps draw attention to the struggles faced by those living in poverty around the world,” said Joel Spicer, President of the Micronutrient Initiative. “One of the greatest struggles in achieving a just and inclusive world is overcoming malnutrition, which prevents children from realizing their full potential and threatens to keep them trapped in a never-ending cycle of poverty and inequity. Canada’s leadership and investments in global nutrition programs are helping to stop this cycle and are improving the lives of hundreds of millions around the world.”

Improving the health of mothers, newborns and children and reducing the number of preventable deaths is Canada's top development priority. In 2010, as part of its G8 presidency, Canada launched a global effort—the Muskoka Initiative—to mobilize global action to reduce maternal and infant mortality, and improve the health of mothers and children in the world's poorest countries. Through the Muskoka Initiative, global leaders committed $7.3 billion toward this effort; this was followed up in September 2010 by the United Nations' Every Woman, Every Child initiative, of which Canada is a leading supporter.

“Canada’s focus on maternal and child health reflects the values of millions of Canadians who believe that we cannot stand idle while the poorest and most vulnerable suffer deaths that are easily and inexpensively prevented,” said Lois Brown. “With our ongoing support, the Micronutrient Initiative continues to be a global leader in scaling up direct nutrition interventions, and improving the access of women and children in developing countries to the vitamins and minerals they need to survive and thrive.”

Due in large part to the Muskoka Initiative and subsequent global action, maternal mortality rates are declining and millions more children are celebrating their fifth birthday. Although our common goal has not yet been achieved, it is within arm's reach.  That is why, as the Prime Minister announced yesterday, Canada is continuing to act as a world leader on these issues by hosting “Saving Every Woman Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach”, an international Summit that will shape the future of global action on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health issues. The Summit, to be held from May 28 to 30, 2014, in Toronto, will build on Canada’s leadership and chart the way forward for the next phase of efforts.

Quick Facts

  • Women and children in developing countries are significantly more likely to die from simple, preventable causes, due to a lack of proven, affordable and cost-effective solutions that most Canadians take for granted.
  • Progress is being made. The number of women who die each year during pregnancy or childbirth has dropped by 47 percent—from 543,000 deaths in 1990 to 287,000 in 2010.
  • The global number of deaths in children under the age of five has also dropped by 45 percent from nearly 12 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012.
  • Canada is providing $2.85 billion in funding between 2010 and 2015 under the Muskoka Initiative to save the lives of women and children in developing countries, with 80 percent of the funding already disbursed.

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Margaux Stastny
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
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