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Malawi: “Health for all is possible” says Minister of Health

In 2000, the countries of the world committed themselves to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including major reductions in the deaths of small children and pregnant mothers.

At the Global Forum on Human Resources for Health meeting here in Bangkok this week, the latest figures show that worldwide at least 3.5 million more nurses, midwives and other healthworkers are needed, so that children and mothers can be saved and world leaders’ promises fulfilled. The situation for millions of children is dire, and dangerous. Around the world, 8 million children under 5 will die this year.

Yet with committed leadership, and, importantly, with effective donor support, even the poorest countries can make big reductions in infant and maternal mortality. It was really inspiring to chat at the forum with the Professor David Mphande, Minister of Health of Malawi.

Malawi is one of the pioneer countries devoting 15% of its budget to health, and is determined to train, hire, and properly support more and more healthworkers so that the needs of the country’s children can be met.

Because of this, Malawi will meet the MDGs for maternal and child survival. Government, the donors, civil society, and the healthworkers themselves all deserve credit for this success.

As the Minister noted, Malawi still has a lot to do, but the extent of progress is a great example of what is possible. It gives us hope – and it also puts moral pressure on other governments in both developing and donor countries, to match the commitment made by Malawi so that the rates of progress for children there can be ensured for children everywhere.

Here’s the personal video of my conversation with the Minister.

You can also follow updates from my work on child survival on twitter at http://twitter.com/atbenphillips

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