Jonathan Calls for Action Plan to Save 16 Million Lives

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President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday implored leaders of developing countries to take resolute steps to save about 16 million women and children from dying between now and 2015.

Jonathan who is the Co-chairman of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children made this imploration on the margin of the ongoing 19th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.

Decrying a situation whereby an estimated 800 women, most of them in developing countries die every year, the President who is co-chairing with the Prime Minister of Norway, Mr Jens Stoltenberg, spoke through the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Mohammed Alli Patte, contended that most of the deaths were preventable.

He said, “3ecent studies conducted in 14 African countries show that critical-life saving priority medicines for mothers and children are available in only 35 to 50 percent of public and private facilities, pharmacists and drug stores.”

“The time for action is now”, President Jonathan noted, adding that “I would like to call on my colleagues, fellow Heads of State and Presidents of African countries to make this issue a priority”.

To address the shortage of essential life-saving medicines, the President called for “increased availability, affordability and accessibility of priority drugs to improve the health of our women and children in our public health systems.

Calling on the media to partner with the governments in their respective countries by making governments and other partners in the private sector accountable for achieving this result, he said, “Today, my message is simple: we need to strive more to save the lives of women and children in Africa. And this we can do by ensuring they have the essential life-saving drugs”.

The UNFPA Executive Director, Nigeria’s Prof Babatunde Osotimehin who was at the briefing lent his voice by noting that Commission was established to increase access to health supplies and medicine to save and improve the lives of women and children.

“The Commission is expected to produce a set of recommendations for improving the accessibility of affordable, effective commodities for women’s and children’s health, with a focus on the needs of countries where most women, newborns and children under-five die from preventable causes”, he said.

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