Press Releases

UNIS/INF/69
5 April 2005

Child and Maternal Mortality Need more Attention

United Nations Dedicates World Health Day to Two Major Millennium Development Goals

VIENNA, 5 April (UN Information Service) -- The World Health Day will be commemorated on 7 April and is dedicated to the theme of “Healthy Mothers and Children”. It aims to draw global attention to the half a million women that die annually in pregnancy or childbirth and to the 11 million children lives lost before they reach the age of five.

This year’s topic is a direct response to two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted five years ago, when the world’s leaders promised to reduce maternal deaths by three quarters and cut child mortality by two thirds until 2015. World Health Day is an opportunity to highlight the problem, to bring all stakeholders together to apply the solutions that work, and to re-dedicate ourselves to that mission.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the lead agency for the successful organizing and planning of global, regional and national events to mark World Health Day. At global level, WHO will launch The World Health Report 2005 – Make every Mother and child count and will organize a high-level meeting in conjunction with this launch. Also in client countries of the United Nations Information Service Vienna a number of activities are planned for World Health Day: While the Austrian Ministry for Health and Women will launch its Women’s Health Report on 6 April at the Press Centre, Stubenring 1, Slovenia’s Ministry of Health and the Slovene Institute of Health Protection are organizing a press conference on 6 April and a high-level panel meeting on 7 April on the WHO-topic: Make every Mother and child count. In Hungary a painting and essay competition on the topic “What kind of family mother/father do I want to be?” was held for children between 10 and 18 years of age which included aspects of family health and childcare. During this week all 19 Hungarian counties and Budapest organize World Health Day related events with programmes reaching from professional medical lectures to council stations for mothers and babies, sport competitions, mummy-baby clubs, and preventive health.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan reminds us in his message on World Health Day that now it is time to stimulate action. It is an occasion to call on all partners -- Governments, international donors, civil society, the private sector, the media, families and individuals alike -- to develop sustainable activities for the survival, health and well- being of mothers and children.

Dr Lee Jong-wook, Director-General of the WHO, emphasises that the overall message for World Health Day 2005 is one of hope for all mothers and children. The future will be more productive for all societies if we act now to make every mother and child count. Globally coherent messages will have the greatest impact and should include the following key observations of the WHO: too many mothers and children are suffering and dying each year, healthy mothers and children are the real wealth of societies, millions of lives could be saved using today’s knowledge, but this knowledge must be transferred into action, and in order to make a difference we all must act now. If we achieve this 2005 could become a landmark year for mothers and children.

The World Health Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established on 7 April in 1948. WHO is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work and is responsible for helping all peoples to attain the highest possible levels of health. The World Health Organization, which celebrates its establishment on 7 April 1948 with the World Health Day, selects for each year a current global health topic to raise interest in the solution of a certain health issue.

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