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UN chief, world leaders prepare to focus on combating maternal, child mortality
Date: 2010/6/25 Click: 1128
UNITED NATIONS, June 23 (Xinhua) -- A new report launched at the UN on Wednesday will likely draw attention of world leaders, particularly those convening at upcoming high-level international meetings, to the continuing problem of maternal and child mortality.

Reducing 1990 levels of mortality of children under-five worldwide by two-thirds and 1990 levels of maternal mortality by three quarters are two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), numbers 4 and 5, respectively.

MDGs are targets for encouraging international development, set by world leaders at the beginning of the new millennium with the ambition of fulfilling the goals by 2015.

An annual report reviewing progress towards MDGs reveals that outcomes for goals 4 and 5 have been good, but have to be improved much more by 2015. Child mortality rates have dropped from 12.6 million in 1990 to an estimated 8.8 million in 2008, but according to the MDG 2010 report only 10 out of 67 countries with the highest child mortality rates are on track to meet MDG 4 on schedule.

Maternal mortality rate has decreased from 100 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 72 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008. While this progress is significant, it is short of the rate of a 5. 5 percent reduction in mortality per year that is required in order to accomplish MDG 5 by 2015.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is emphasizing the importance of MDGs 4 and 5 and the need to invest effort and resources in their achievement. Ban has pointed to the significant MDG achievements in fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, noted in the 2010 report, as proof that international cooperation can facilitate great strides forward in the health sector.

"For too long, maternal and child health has been at the back of the MDG train," Ban said at the April 2010 launch of a Joint Action Plan for accomplishing these two goals. "But we know it can be the engine of development."

The Joint Action Plan, formulated by Ban and leaders from governments, international organizations, corporations and civil society, will set a strategy for moving forward with the worldwide improvement of maternal and child health.

Group of Eight (G-8) leaders meeting in Canada this week as well as over 100 heads of state meeting at the UN in September will have an opportunity to make increased support for maternal and child health a priority.
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