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Asking health ministers to join EVERY ONE

Simon addressing the WHO Executive Board
Simon addressing the WHO Executive Board

The Executive Board of the World Health Organisation is a select group of governments who get to agree the documents that will be debated at the World Health Assembly in May. Three weeks into the new decade, with final six years towards the Millennium Development Goals target date somehow seeming even more pressing, it is exactly the right time to ask health ministers from around the world to join in the EVERY ONE campaign. The Board is discussing many important global health issues, including migration of healthcare workers, access to intellectual property such as medicines and infant feeding. The Haiti earthquake is rightly in everyone’s mind and each government was anxious to express their solidarity for the people of Port-au-Prince and the importance of all governments acting under the coordination of the UN system.

Today the debate was a progress report on the Millennium Development Goals and, as an organisation in official relations with the WHO, I was able to address the delegates. The report is very broad and says much that we agree with strongly, including the importance of aid to respect the Paris Principles, the principles of equity in health and the action needed to strengthen health systems. I focused on calling for the delegates to endorse the Global Consensus on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. This Consensus has some important principles in it including supporting the removal of healthcare fees for mothers and children. The Consensus was adopted by the G8 last year in Italy, so I made the point that for the World Health Assembly to fail to endorse it would be a step backwards. We know that some governments are being very supportive but others (European donor governments actually) are blocking it. If we do not win it here then we will make sure there is a big discussion at the full meeting in May.

At the end, I told them that Save the Children has launched a global campaign called EVERY ONE and asked them to join us in with a renewed commitment to achieve MDG4. The Chair of the meeting, Dr Zaramba from the Ugandan government said when I had finished: “Thank you, Save the Children.” (Perfect pause). “Every One”. This shows that our campaign and its name is getting known and remembered. Not bad for a new campaign!

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