Address by Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, Lois Brown: Mom-mentum Mother's Day Tea

May 7, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario

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Good afternoon, everyone.

Thank you for joining us. I am very happy to be here at the Mom-mentum Mother’s Day Tea.

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I can think of no better time for a gathering like this. Today, and later this weekend, we celebrate mothers and we thank them—for their love and care, their incredible patience, and for always wanting the best for their children.

I would like to thank the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health for hosting this second annual event to raise awareness about the amazing work you are doing to save the lives of mothers and children in more than a thousand regions around the world, and I look forward to seeing you again later this month in Toronto, at the Summit on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

We can all be proud of your efforts and of the leadership Canada has shown on the international stage.

As Canadians, there are things that many of us take for granted in this country—things like food, water, health care and vaccinations.

We mustn’t forget that many around the world are not as fortunate as we are here.

Inadequate medical care, undernutrition and disease continually threaten the lives of mothers and children in developing countries.

No mother should have to choose between herself and the health of her baby.

But the most recent data shows that more than six million children die each year before their fifth birthday.

And nearly 300,000 women die in pregnancy.

This is doubly tragic when we consider that most of these deaths could have been prevented with access to clean water, nutritious food and the most basic health treatments.

We cannot stand idle while women and young children in developing countries suffer deaths that are easily and inexpensively prevented.

Maternal, newborn and child health is Canada's top development priority.

That is why Prime Minister Harper galvanized global action to reduce maternal and child mortality rates by launching the G-8 Muskoka Initiative for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in 2010.

Thanks 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.

Our common goal has not yet been achieved—but it is within arm's reach.

Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law guide our principled foreign policy and we have a track record of concrete results.

Between 2010 and 2013, Canada's support has helped to provide:

  • 5.8 million children with life-saving vaccinations, in addition to 12 million Afghan children who were vaccinated for polio;
  • more than 180 million children with two doses of Vitamin A each year—a key nutritional element for healthy development, immunity and eyesight;
    • an average of more than 300 million people with iodized salt to prevent iodine deficiency each year; and
    • nearly two million pregnant women with iron and folic acid supplements each year to ensure healthier pregnancies.

As a result, nutrition is improving.

The rate of disease is going down.

And more and better health care is available.

We can eliminate the preventable deaths of women, children and newborns, and save the millions of lives that hang in the balance.

Canadian organizations and health experts—including many individual Canadians who have rolled up their sleeves and become involved—have played a crucial role in what we have achieved to date.

But our job isn't done—not as long as lives are needlessly lost.

So the work continues, with countless ongoing initiatives designed to keep mothers and children healthy.

Canada will continue to push women’s and children’s health to the forefront of the global agenda.

And Canada will once again drive the world to action by hosting a high-level Summit on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Toronto later this month.

The Summit will bring together experts from around the world to accelerate efforts on critical maternal, newborn and child health.

Saving the lives of women and children is not only a moral imperative—it is the foundation for building prosperous communities for this generation and the next.

This work reflects our most strongly held Canadian values.

As Prime Minister Harper said "when the need is great and the cause is just, Canadians are always there. And we will always be. Because that is what Canadians do."

Thank you.