Report warns of 80 million lives at risk

 A new report out this afternoon shows that unless radical improvements in global healthcare are made in the next twelve years, an estimated 80 million children and mothers will die unnecessarily. 80 million lives: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals in child and maternal survival, from the Grow Up Free from Poverty coalition, reveals that if child mortality rates continue at the same pace, the lives of millions of children will be lost every year from preventable illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia. The report, to be launched at HM Treasury in the presence of the Secretary of State for International Development, Baroness Amos, investigates progress towards meeting two of the millennium development goals to reduce child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015. Worryingly it finds that, instead of meeting these targets, in many countries the decline in child and maternal mortality rates has actually stagnated or reversed, with some African countries needing another 150 years to achieve the goals at present rates. The coalition, which includes CAFOD, Tearfund and Save the Children, is calling on governments, policy makers and donors world-wide to take urgent steps to meet the international targets as they have promised. George Gelber, Chair of the Grow Up Coalition and CAFOD's Head of Public Policy said: "It is unacceptable that children continue to die from diseases that can so easily be prevented. Over the next twelve years, more than 80 million children and mothers will die if we fail to meet these targets - that's roughly the equivalent of the population of the United Kingdom and New York combined. The Grow Up coalition challenges all those with the responsibility and power to prevent these 80 million unnecessary deaths. "We support Gordon Brown's call for doubling aid to tackle poverty with the International Finance Facility (IFF). But we stress that while we cannot make progress without more resources, at the same time we need a careful analysis of why policies have failed in the past, and how we must implement new policies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and healthcare for all." As world leaders prepare to gather next week for World Bank and IMF meetings, experts from the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, DFID and civil society will debate these issues and solutions at the launch as part of the global dialogue towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The report argues that failures in healthcare to date are the result not only of a lack of political will, but also of the imposition of policies that ignore the poor, and disadvantage women and children. It calls for a move towards a social model of healthcare, provided on the basis of need and equity. It also calls for developed countries to halt their recruitment drives of skilled health professionals from the developing world. Co-author, Regina Keith, Health Advisor for Save the Children said: "Most children in the developing world are suffering from illnesses that also affect children here in the UK. The difference is that in the developing world, many of these children will die. While the responsibility for reducing child mortality should be shared globally, making it a reality must be based on locally determined priorities and not a 'one-size fits all' distribution of resources." One of the speakers at the launch will be Rev Agnes Mukandoli, Mothers Union Representative from Rwanda, who said: "When a woman becomes pregnant she should be able to be happy and look forward to a new life coming into the world. But in my country, as in many others, the time of birth is associated with fear because so many mothers and babies die there from things that could be prevented. Their lives are not lost to complicated diseases - better basic healthcare, clean water and sanitation would make a big difference. It seems that no one notices women and children dying. Are we invisible? It feels that way to us. Every minute another woman dies for no good reason. Half a million each year. We look to the powerful countries and people to stop this waste of life."

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