|Greentree Meeting on Maternal Health|
A high level meeting hosted by the Greentree Foundation, co-sponsored by UNFPA, the other UN Health 4+ agencies (UNAIDS, UNICEF, World Bank, WHO) and the International Women’s Health Coalition, convened key actors who can accelerate progress on reproductive and neonatal health, two aspects of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that are the furthest behind. The more than 70 participants included Health Ministers and senior health officials of seven countries with large numbers, or rates of maternal and child deaths (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, and the United Republic of Tanzania, including the Minister of Health of Zanzibar); leaders of UN agencies; the Health Cluster Co-Facilitator of the UN Secretary General’s MDG Advocacy Group; and representatives of civil society, particularly women and young people, donor agencies, the private sector, and health professionals.
The meeting adopted a statement in which the Ministers present said: "We identified concrete ways to accelerate progress on our priority commitment to dramatically improve women's and children's health by 2015. We agreed that a key action is to ensure that women, newborns and children have ready access at the community level to health workers with midwifery skills to make pregnancy and child birth safe, including by supporting access to emergency obstetric care, and to provide contraceptives and other services to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.”
Considering the high-level presence, the depth of the discussions, and the strong statement of commitment to prioritize investments in skilled health workers and in facilitating women’s access to them, the Greentree meeting made a significant contribution to the momentum of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. With commitments from 56 countries, UN Agencies, the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy group, private sector partners and civil society groups, it is reasonable to expect that accelerated progress will be made in reaching MDGs 4 and 5. Key first steps for the H4+ and partners to maintain the momentum strengthened by the Greentree meeting include: collaborating with the seven countries to conduct needs assessments that will analyze the health workforce with midwifery skills, identify bottlenecks, and provide the platform on which to develop and implement innovative strategies tailored to the needs of each individual country; assisting governments to plan, program and budget activities in support of the commitments made to the Global Strategy; and continuing efforts to mobilize resources in support of MDGs 4 and 5.