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Action urged on maternal death ratios

WOMEN’S Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi has called on world leaders to renew and increase efforts to achieve a global goal to reduce maternal mortality rates, saying the issue should be a focus of the G-8 and G-20 summit later this month.

“We jointly raise an urgent call to leaders around the world to take immediate steps to ensure the health, dignity and rights of all girls and women,” she said during a speech on the closing day of the Women Deliver 2010 conference in Washington.

Her remarks were made on behalf of ministers from 30 countries with high maternal mortality rates who participated in the conference.

“The most immediate opportunities to demonstrate our seriousness, are the preparations for the G-8 and G-20 leaders’ summit in late June, and the United Nations high level meeting to review the [Millennium Development Goals] in September,” she said.

The conference, which has been billed by organisers as the largest-ever global maternal health conference, started on Monday and ended on Wednesday.

In her speech, Ing Kantha Phavi outlined a seven-point action plan designed to assist governments worldwide in reducing maternal mortality rates, and emphasised the need for a coordinated international effort.

The reduction of maternal mortality should be placed “at the centre of global health initiatives”, she said.

Alice Levisay, Cambodia’s country coordinator for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), who represented her office at the conference, said in an email to the Post that Cambodia’s maternal mortality rate of 461 per 100,000 live births was the third-highest among countries in the Asia and Pacific region.

“Many LDCs [least-developed countries] face the same issues, but Cambodia has particular constraints with infrastructure and human resources given its history,” she said.

To meet its MDG, Cambodia must reduce its maternal mortality rate to 140 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

Levisay said she hoped this week’s conference would result in “increased global and political commitment and contributions to achieve” the goal, and that “participating countries would bring back concrete strategies and best practices to apply at country level”.



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