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Girls & Women

Why South Africa must prioritize health for all

United Nations Photos

For the first time in history, we have the opportunity to live in a world where every pregnancy is healthy and wanted, where every birth is safe, where every child can survive beyond their 5th birthday, and where all women, children and adolescents are empowered to thrive and realize their fullest potential.

Great strides have already been made around the world in women’s and children’s health. In the past 15 years, maternal mortality has dropped by 47% and child mortality by 49%. However, the global community still has a lot of work to do in order to end preventable maternal, child and adolescent deaths by 2030.

Did you know that...

Across the world, 225 million women who want to delay or stop having children have an unmet need for family planning.

289,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth every year. Too many women who are pregnant don’t have access to proper medical care and are forced to give birth at home. By giving birth without skilled midwives or doctors, they are unable to handle unexpected complications.

6.3 million children under age 5 die each year. Most of these deaths are entirely preventable, and are a result of ill-health, malnutrition or lack of access to health care. This makes children prone to pneumonia, diarrhoea or measles.

60% of maternal deaths, 53% of child deaths and 45% of newborn deaths occur in fragile states and humanitarian settings. Women, children and adolescents who live in poor or marginalized communities are much more likely to have difficulty accessing health care and leading healthy, prosperous lives.

This must change, and everyone has a role to play. Governments – rich and poor alike – must commit to closing the gap on preventable deaths so that all children, young people and women can unlock their full potential. Affordable interventions like vaccines, antibiotics, hand-washing and breast feeding have proven track records for reducing deaths and are immediately effective.

This year, with the launch of the Global Goals, the UN Secretary-General and other world leaders are coming together to achieve the goal of ending preventable maternal, child and adolescent deaths by 2030. On the same day as the Global Citizen Festival, the United Nations Secretary-General will launch a renewed plan called the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health in support of the Every Woman Every Child partnership.

Already, Japan, Norway, Canada and the US, as well as many other countries, have publicly supported this renewed Global Strategy.

Now, we are calling on South African President Jacob Zuma to follow suit.

South Africa’s commitment would set a strong precedent for other countries to follow and ensure strong implementation of the Global Goals. First, as the 2015 Chair of the Group of 77, South Africa holds the highest political position among the largest organization of developing countries in the United Nations. Second, South Africa is one of 5 major emerging economies, which includes Brazil, Russia, India and China. Commonly known as the “BRICS” countries, they collectively represent over 3 billion people, or 42% of the world’s population!

Over 30,000 global citizens have already e-mailed the South African government to prioritize maternal, newborn and adolescent health. Now, we need to ensure that the President hears this call from global citizens far and wide.

Go to TAKE ACTION NOW and call on the President of South Africa to prioritize the health and wellbeing of women, children and young people by attending the Global Citizen Festival and making a commitment to the Global Strategy.