Committing to Women and Children

The G8 summit gets underway today in Muskoka, Canada. It's exciting that a focus of the summit is a new G8 initiative - conceived and led by Canada - to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in poor countries.

G8 countries are expected to commit major resources toward the initiative. Other public and private donors are also lending support, including the Gates Foundation -- we recently announced the foundation will make new grants totaling $1.5 billion over the next five years to support family planning, maternal and child health, and nutrition programs in developing countries.

The G8 commitments are an important landmark, but it's more critical than ever to step up advocacy on global health. Right now there's tremendous pressure in most donor countries to cut budgets, so we need to continue highlighting the fact that global health investments are working and are incredibly cost-effective. Maternal and child health is a great example - there's very clear proof that low-cost solutions are saving lives, and can save many more if we expand effective programs.

This is a pivotal moment for women's and children's health. The task ahead is to be ready to make the most of the opportunity we created - to do the hard work of saving women's and children's lives. We must move forward together, as one, with the courage to overcome the obstacles that have stopped us in the past.

Our unity and our courage will be tested. Canada's new initiative is the most ambitious effort on behalf of women's and children's health in history. And in a few weeks, the United Nations will publish its Joint Action Plan, leading up to the special session on the Millennium Development Goals in September. The whole world will be looking to us for leadership.

It will not be easy, but we must not fail. We are making a new world for poor women and children: a world in which every birth is a promise - a promise of a better future.

Check out groups like ONE and CARE for info about ways to make your voice heard.