A Complicated Delivery: G8 Commits $5 billion to Maternal and Child Health But Big Questions Remain
Written by Amy Boldosser for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.
Amy Boldosser is reporting for RH Reality Check from the G8 meetings, in partnership with Family Care International. See other coverage of the G8 by Amy here and here, and a piece by Stephen Lewis of AIDS-Free World.
The first day of the G8 Summit answered some of the questions that maternal, newborn and child health advocates had about Canada’s signature G8 initiative, The Muskoka Initiative for maternal and child health. Speculation had been rampant all day following Canadian Prime Minister Harper’s midday announcement that Canada is committing $1.1 billion Canadian dollars in new spending over five years for maternal and child health programs in poor countries, bringing Canada’s total maternal and child health spending to almost $3 billion Canadian. Harper made the announcement in his brief comments before the beginning of the G8’s afternoon session with invited leaders from Africa and the Americas. As the G8 leaders headed in to closed door meetings, advocates were left to wonder whether Canada could pull off the heavy lift of gaining similar concrete, new financial commitments from the G8 member states for saving the lives of women and children.
So did they deliver for the world’s women and children? Well, sort of. When the doors were opened and Prime Minister Harper addressed advocates and press again, he announced that the, “G-8 leaders made a historic commitment to the Muskoka initiative to maternal, newborn and child health. Together, G-8 members have committed US $5 billion over the next 5 years.” In addition, Harper revealed that, “G-8 leadership has also attracted the donations and contributions from other countries and foundations of more than US $2.3 billion for a total of US $7.3 billion. In addition to our G-8 partners, we would also like to thank the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.”
Canadian officials refused to release specifics on what each country pledged. Harper indicated that each of the G8 countries did make a contribution, although he admitted some contributed more than others relative to the size of their economies. He chalked up the differences in pledges to differences in priorities among countries and differences in country financial situations and said that since Canada’s economy is in the strongest financial position, it had made the largest country contribution to this flagship initiative. Read more