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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Poor countries lead in mother, child spending

Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal and some of the world's other poorest countries helped lead the way over the past year as UN member states began meeting their unprecedented pledge of more than USD 40 billion for maternal and child health, a new study of the spending says.

The spending report is being released at a high-level event chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has made raising money for the health of mothers and their children a pet project.

"By and large, the commitments made have been met," said Dr. Julio Frenk, chairman of the fundraising effort and dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Frenk, chairman of the World Health Organization's Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and a former health secretary of Mexico, said he was especially pleased to see that some of the poorer nations are taking on more financial responsibility for their development needs.

Those countries are "moving away from the paternalistic to a framework for shared accountability," said Frenk. "The leadership shown by the lowest-income countries in their commitments to improve women's and children's health has been outstanding."

Among countries, India has made one of the biggest financial commitments, spending more than USD 3.5 billion each year on health services, with specific efforts to focus on the districts accounting for most of the infant and maternal deaths.

Frenk said that close to USD 45 billion has been committed to the UN initiative known as Every Mother Every Child, passing the initial pledges of USD 40 billion made a year ago.

Through the Lenses !

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