Government of Canada

Global Affairs Canada

www.international.gc.ca

Minister Oda Announces Global Health, Nutrition and Disease Prevention Initiatives

November 1, 2010

OTTAWA, Ontario—The Honourable Beverly J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, today announced in a speech to the Canadian Conference on Global Health further steps in Canada's commitment to improving the health of the most vulnerable people in developing countries.

"Our government believes that improving the health of those living in poverty is key to achieving progress on all the Millennium Development Goals. It is also the foundation needed to realize sustainable results in all other development sectors such as education, economic growth, and agriculture," said Minister Oda. "With increased effectiveness and focus on proven interventions, Canada's international efforts in health are making a significant contribution to a healthier world. I am proud of Canada's leadership in maternal and child health, polio eradication, and nutrition."

In her speech, Minister Oda announced that Canada will provide additional support to the Micronutrient Initiative. "Canada has been a leader in recognizing, and encourages all other donors to recognize, the importance of nutrition and micronutrients in the health of mothers and children. CIDA is proud to support the work of the Canada-based Micronutrient Initiative in providing essential nutritional supplements, such as salt iodization and vitamin A supplements, which are saving lives and ensuring children get the chance to reach their full potential."

"Micronutrients are vital components of good nutrition and human health, contributing to physical and intellectual development in many important ways," said M.G. Venkatesh Mannar, President of the Micronutrient Initiative. "Yet this hidden hunger continues to affect a full third of the global population. For almost twenty years, Canada has been a key supporter of the initiative, and this significant new contribution will help us save many more lives around the world."

Minister Oda also announced further Canadian support to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, building on Canada's ongoing commitment to eradicate the disease in Afghanistan and to strengthen surveillance and immunization systems.

"Canada's deep commitment and consistent leadership in funding polio eradication in countries such as Afghanistan has meant that hundreds of thousands of children have been immunized, often in remote, impoverished, and very violent areas of that country," Minister Oda said. "Today's contribution makes Canada the largest donor to polio eradication initiatives in the country."

CIDA is supporting the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, with a major portion of its contribution targeted to the eradication of polio in Afghanistan. In addition, Canada's support will help provide medical training and improve immunization and surveillance services in all areas where polio still exists.

"The Gates Foundation is proud to be working with the Canadian government as we seek to reach the goal of ending polio for all children forever," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, President of the Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Canada sets an example that, despite difficult economic times, ending polio and strengthening immunization systems are priorities worth supporting."

"These initiatives and others announced today will contribute to Canada's Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn and child health," Minister Oda stated. Canada's $1.1 billion in new funding over five years will be focused along three key paths:
  • Strengthening health systems to improve health service delivery at the local level by training more health workers and expanding access for mothers and children to needed health care facilities and care at the local level
  • Addressing the diseases and illnesses that are the leading causes of mother and child mortality
  • Improving nutrition by increasing access to healthful and nutritious food and needed nutritional supplements that help reduce mortality

Eighty percent of the new Canadian contribution will flow to sub-Saharan Africa—specifically to Mozambique, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Tanzania-as the region faces the greatest challenges in addressing maternal and child mortality. In addition, Canada will address gaps in maternal, newborn, and child health in Afghanistan, Haiti, and Bangladesh.

Recent Canadian funding for multilateral and global health initiatives include:
  • Renewed support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced by Prime Minister Harper at the United Nations in September ($540 million over three years)
  • Renewed support for the GAVI Alliance to help accelerate the introduction of new and underused vaccines for mothers and children in developing countries and to strengthen their health and immunization systems ($50 million over five years)
  • Support for the Health 4, a collaborative mechanism established by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, UNICEF, and the World Bank to improve coordinated support to national maternal and newborn health programmes ($50 million over five years)



  • Video footage on maternal, newborn and child health in Tanzania and Bolivia
  • Additional videos on Multimedia web page


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Information:

Jessica Fletcher
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Email: media@acdi-cida.gc.ca


Backgrounder

The Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn and child health

Introduction

Announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the G-8 Summit in June 2010, the Muskoka Initiative will address the significant gaps that exist in maternal, newborn, and child health in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, more than 350,000 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications every year (Source: Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2008, report released by the World Health Organization on September 15, 2010). More than 8 million children in developing countries die each year before their fifth birthday. More than one third of these deaths are attributable to undernutrition.

G-8 countries have committed $5 billion in new funding for the Muskoka Initiative. Other countries, as well as private foundations, are contributing $7.3 billion to this global effort.

Canada's contribution to the Muskoka Initiative is $1.1 billion in new money over five years to address the leading causes of maternal, newborn, and under-five child mortality in the developing world. Canada will also maintain its existing funding of $ 1.75 billion over five years on maternal, newborn, and child health. This total funding of $2.85 billion will flow through CIDA and will be organized along three integrated paths:

Strengthening health systems to improve service delivery to maternal, newborn, and child health at the local level by training more health workers and increasing access to adequately equipped local health centres. CIDA is working with country partners to:
  • Support national plans and priorities regarding maternal, newborn, and child health
  • Fill gaps in health systems (for example, health workers, facilities, supplies, monitoring, evaluation)
  • Expand access to services
Reducing the burden of diseases that are killing mothers and children. CIDA is supporting the provision of medicines, vaccines, and actions needed to prevent and treat the prevalent diseases and illnesses that are the main causes of maternal and child mortality.

Improving nutrition by increasing access to healthful and nutritious food and essential micronutrient supplements that save lives. CIDA will support initiatives that improve nutritional health by:
  • Improving infant and child feeding practices
  • Promoting exclusive breast-feeding
  • Providing supplements and ready-to-use therapeutic foods and key vitamins and minerals, including iodized salt and vitamin A
Programming will be delivered through CIDA's geographic, multilateral and global, and Partnerships with Canadians programs. Overall, 80 percent of the funding will go to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest incidence of maternal and child mortality.

Geographic: CIDA's geographic investments will focus on countries with high child and maternal morbidity and mortality rates that have demonstrated they can make progress on maternal, newborn, and child health. CIDA will focus its efforts on 10 key countries—Mozambique, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Haiti.

Multilateral and global: With multilateral and global partners, such as UN agencies, Canada will work in countries where the need is greatest across the three paths of the initiative. As an example, Prime Minister Harper announced on September 21, 2010, that Canada was increasing its contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to help the Global Fund expand prevention, care, and treatment for mothers and children most vulnerable to these three diseases. Since its establishment in 2002, the Global Fund has saved approximately 5.7 million lives.

Further funding commitments include:
  • $75 million over five years to the Micronutrient Initiative, which delivers essential vitamin and mineral supplements around the world, saving lives and ensuring children get the chance to reach their full potential
  • $50 million over five years to the GAVI Alliance, which works to distribute vaccines against pneumonia and diarrheal disease-two of the biggest killers of young children
  • $50 million dollars in support of Health 4, a collaborative mechanism established by the World Health Organization, the UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund, and the World Bank, to improve coordinated support to national maternal and newborn health programmes
  • $540 million over three years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to safeguard substantial achievements in developing countries already made and to expand prevention, care, and treatment for the most vulnerable to the three diseases
Partnerships with Canadians: Canadian partners engage the expertise of health practitioners and local civil society organizations to address local and national health priorities. Through community-based efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality, they can extend the reach of national health services to rural and underserved areas. In many high burden countries, civil society organizations provide the main platform by which to reach these groups and are able to respond in a timely and effective way to needs identified by communities.

By targeting high-impact, proven interventions to improve maternal, newborn and under-five survival, reduce the burden of disease, and improve nutrition, and with a concerted effort to ensure the long-term sustainability of results by increasing access to local health centres, Canada will help save the lives of thousands of women and children.


Backgrounder

The Micronutrient Initiative

Over the past two decades, the Canadian-founded Micronutrient Initiative (MI) has saved more than 3 million lives by distributing essential vitamins and minerals such as iodized salt and Vitamin A supplements. Its programs benefit nearly 500 million women and children in more than 70 countries every year, combatting the hidden hunger brought on by nutrient-poor food.

The Government of Canada is a close partner of MI. Over the past decade, Canada has provided an average of $30 million each year to the organization, and in November 2009, CIDA announced a $150 million commitment through to 2013. The additional $75 million over five years, announced by the government on November 1, 2010, underscores the importance of micronutrients to good health and development, especially for mothers and children.

MI has its headquarters in Ottawa with offices in 11 countries. MI works with its local partners to support country-driven policies and strengthen health systems. MI also works with other public and private partners.

MI was founded on the principle that hunger is about more than empty stomachs. There is also hidden hunger: a lack of essential minerals and vitamins that thwarts brain development, stunts growth, lowers immunity, and starves muscles. MI's programs focus on highly effective, proven interventions that can be delivered at low cost. For example, one high-strength Vitamin A capsule every six months, each costing about two cents, can help protect a child from blindness, disease, and even death.

Interventions by MI focus on the key period of pre-pregnancy through early childhood, where child development is most critical. These interventions strongly support the continuum of care that is so important in addressing the problems of maternal and child mortality.

Canada's funding to MI is part of this country's ongoing efforts to help developing countriesimprove the nutritional status and health of women, newborns, and children. MI's commitment to reduce infant and child mortality and to improve maternal health is fully aligned with the UN's Millennium Development Goals and with Canada's 2010 Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn and child health. Nutrition is also a key component of CIDA's strategy on food security and its strategy on children and youth.

For more information, please visit MI's website.


Backgrounder

The H4 Initiative for Maternal and Newborn Health

As part of Canada's efforts under the Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn and child health, the government will work with country partners, non-governmental organizations, and multilateral and global partners, taking an integrated approach to tackling the problems faced by mothers and children in developing countries.
Canada will work with four multilateral organizations—the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, UNICEF, and the World Bank—that have banded together under the H4 initiative to bring greater focus, integration, and resources to the task of reducing maternal and child deaths.

The H4 initiative seeks to significantly reduce maternal and newborn mortality in countries with the highest incidences of maternal and newborn illness and death.
Under Canada's new $1.1 billion commitment to the Muskoka Initiative, CIDA is providing up to $50 million over the next five years for H4 work with national governments and civil society organizations to help strengthen:
  • Country health plans to ensure that these are UN Millennium Development Goal-driven and performance-based
  • Budget plans to rapidly bring required resources to support maternal and newborn health needs and to reduce financial barriers to access, especially for the poorest
  • Health care to ensure access to trained health workers, reproductive health care and services including family planning, skilled attendance at delivery, emergency obstetric and newborn care, and ensuring links with HIV prevention and treatment
  • Training for skilled health workers, particularly midwives
  • Country plans to tackle the root causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, including inequality between women and men; low access to education, especially for girls; child marriage; and adolescent pregnancy
  • Monitoring and evaluation systems


Backgrounder

Canada Announces Additional Support for Global Polio Eradication

Canada remains committed to eradicating polio around the world and is a proud supporter of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The initiative was launched in 1988 by national governments, the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF. At that time, polio was endemic in more than 125 countries on five continents, paralyzing more than 1,000 children every day. Since then, the number of cases has fallen by more than 99 percent. Only four countries remain polio-endemic (Nigeria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan) and only 14 countries reported new cases this year.

Poliomyelitis mainly affects children under the age of five, causing irreversible paralysis in one in 200 infections, sometimes leading to death. Affected children become a burden to their families and the health system and are confined to a life of poverty.

On November 1, 2010, International Cooperation Minister Beverley Oda announced an additional contribution of $58.5 million over three years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, building on CIDA's ongoing commitment to eradicate the disease in Afghanistan and to strengthen surveillance and immunization systems. Since 2000, Canada has provided over $330 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Canada is the leading donor to polio eradication initiatives in Afghanistan, the fifth largest donor among the G-8, and the ninth largest contributor overall. The G-8 Muskoka Declaration, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, states that: "G-8 donors also remain steadfast in their support for polio eradication and remain committed to a polio-free world."

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative's Strategic Plan aims to eradicate polio by 2012. The new plan integrates a number of lessons learned and recent technical breakthroughs. Proposed activities for the new plan are broken down into four major objectives:
  • Interrupting wild poliovirus transmission in Africa
  • Interrupting wild poliovirus transmission in Asia
  • Enhancing global poliovirus surveillance and outbreak response
  • Strengthening immunization systems
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative's also supports the delivery of routine immunizations, vitamin A and zinc supplements, and the distribution of antimalarial bed nets where appropriate. A portion of Canada's new funding will fund this work and will strengthen surveillance systems in endemic and re-infected countries.

Canada's support for polio eradication in Afghanistan is one of CIDA's signature projects in Afghanistan. CIDA supports the immunization of an estimated seven million children under the age of five across Afghanistan, including almost 400,000 in the province of Kandahar. Canada has been the largest contributor to polio eradication efforts in Afghanistan.