The following is a media release from Bob McMullan MP, Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, released 3 May 2009The global economic crisis is putting the health of women and children in the Asia-Pacific region at greater risk, Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, said today.
Mr McMullan co-launched a report, Investing in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, the Case for Asia and the Pacific, at the Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting, Bali, which exposed gaps in health investment for women and children.
"It is clear that the Millennium Development Goals to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health will not be met unless there is an increase in funding and development of national strategies to ensure effective allocation of resources," Mr McMullan said.
Mr McMullan said the report by the Maternal Newborn and Child Health Network for Asia and the Pacific exposes where, why, and how there should be greater and better spending in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Engaging donors and partner organisations to invest in maternal and child health is crucial now more than ever," Mr McMullan said.
"The World Bank estimates that 200,000-400,000 more children will die each year if the global economic crisis continues."
Each year 9.2 million children under the age of five die from mostly preventable causes. More than a third of these deaths occur in the Asia Pacific region.
The World Health Organization believes that more than 80 per cent of maternal deaths could be prevented or avoided through affordable means, even in resource-poor countries.
Mr McMullan said Australia is spending at least A$250 million over the next four years to improve women's and children's health in the Asia-Pacific region and strengthen national health systems.
"For example, Australia is providing A$49 million over four years to support the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health," Mr McMullan said.
Australia is also part of the Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems, established to help save 10 million mothers and newborns by 2015, and was instrumental in the formation of the Maternal Newborn and Child Health Network for Asia and the Pacific.