Population Matters

Did the G8 Deliver?

June 29th, 2010

Earlier this month, more than three thousand family planning and reproductive health advocates gathered in Washington D.C. for the Women Deliver conference.  At the conference the Gates Foundation delivered:  Melinda Gates announced that the Gates Foundation would be spending another $1.5 billion in support of maternal health and nutrition programs. 

Hopes were high that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s commitment would prod world leaders at the upcoming G8 summit in Canada to commit much larger sums to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 5, which commits the world by 2015 to: 1) reduce maternal mortality in developing countries by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015; and 2) provide universal access to reproductive health services, including family planning.

This past Saturday, the G8 released the detail of the Muskoka Initiative for Maternal and Child Health, which included a pledge of $5 billion of “new money” from the G8 over the next five years for maternal, newborn, and child health.  It’s still not clear, however, whether that figure is somehow inflated and whether it’s anywhere close to the amount needed to fulfill MDG 4 (reduction in child mortality) and MDG 5.  It’s certainly a positive development, but just how positive is a matter of opinion. Amy Boldosser, from Family Care International, writes in her blog today that:

MDG 5 is farthest away from being achieved by 2015 and estimates are that another $20 billion is needed if we hope to reach those targets for reduction in maternal and child mortality and reproductive health access in time. The Muskoka Initiative doesn’t come close to meeting that $20 billion shortfall, but it is a start.

With respect to family planning, the communiqué says that the additional funds committed by the G8 will expand access to modern methods of family planning to an additional 12 million couples.  Let’s hope that pledge is fulfilled, but–even if it is it–it looks increasingly likely that goal of achieving universal access to family planning and reproductive health services will not be achieved by 2015.  

Women deliver. World leaders?  Maybe not.

Posted by Robert J. Walker, Executive Vice President

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