My mother, Esther Schiegg, was born in Wangen bei Olten -- a small town in central Switzerland. She was born by a midwife, and so were her three sisters. My mom describes her town's midwife as someone everyone knew and highly-respected. The 30th Triennial Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives, held this week in majestic Prague, celebrates the life-saving contributions of midwives to families everywhere.
New data released at the Congress showed how investing in high-quality midwifery could prevent about two-thirds of all maternal and newborn deaths -- saving millions of lives each year. However, this same report showed that 78 percent of analyzed countries have severe shortages in their ability to provide proper care to women and newborns. Investing in midwives is an important part of a larger puzzle. We know that too many women and children, mostly in poorer countries, are still dying from largely preventable causes. Global and country-level leadership is essential to provide frontline health workers and advocates the fuel they need to continue saving lives.
That's why Every Woman Every Child is an important movement to join and know about. In 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched Every Woman Every Child to mobilize and intensify global action to save and improve the lives of women and children around the world. More than 300 stakeholders, including 70 governments, are rallying around a common vision called the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health. By securing private sector and civil society commitments alongside governments, we are going further together.
With a little more than 500 days to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), #Commit2Deliver is an advocacy platform led by Every Woman Every Child partners that is showcasing results and encouraging accountability among commitment makers. A few global movements are also charting the course to ensure women's and children's health remains central in 2015 and beyond.
Recently, at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm's Reach Summit on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Toronto, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada renewed Canada's commitment towards maternal, newborn and child health through 2015-2020 and called on other global donors to meet their commitments to women and children, leading up to and beyond 2015.
On June 25, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the government of Ethiopia and India, in collaboration with UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will come together for a high-level forum in Washington, DC. Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Death will celebrate progress, assess challenges that remain and identify steps needed to sustain momentum in the future. You can join and follow the conversation using #MomandBaby.
The evening of June 25 is when the "5th Birthday and Beyond" coalition is celebrating America's global leadership for healthy children. American investment in global public health programs has helped to cut childhood deaths under age 5 from preventable disease by nearly half. Join the social media push and larger effort to celebrate this milestone by sharing your Age 5 photo and using #5thBDay.
The capstone of this series of events is Accelerate Action, Envision the Future: the Third Annual PMNCH Partners' Forum, from June 30 - July 1. The Partners' Forum will unite global health professionals, policy makers, business leaders, advocates and youth leaders from more than 40 countries in Johannesburg. They will review progress, identify factors for success, and accelerate action to address gaps and save more lives. For example, the launch of the Every Newborn Action Plan will lay out a roadmap to improve maternal and newborn health by 2035, saving more than 3 million babies and their mothers every year by investing in quality care at the time of birth. #PMNCHLive will be the main way to join and follow the conversation from the Forum.
These events are promoting a laser-like focus on accountability for resources and results and are a rallying cry to do everything we can to accelerate action on the health MDGs. By coming together under a common narrative and reinforcing advocacy efforts, Every Woman Every Child is creating an echo chamber that we must keep our promises to women and children around the world. You can join this movement by sharing accountability activities and results on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook using #Commit2Deliver or email your photos or videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.