Women and children must have health priority

Posted: 6 June 2002

Commonwealth countries are to give greater priority to women's and children's health in order to significantly reduce maternal, infant and child mortality and to achieve the development goals set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000.

This was one of the decisions taken by Commonwealth health ministers at their 2002 pre-World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, in May 2002. It was also one of the Commonwealth perspectives reflected in the resolutions of the World Health Organisation's 2002 World Health Assembly.

The Assembly urged member states to "strengthen and expand efforts to meet, in particular, international development goals and targets related to reduction of maternal and child mortality and malnutrition" and "to continue to advocate as public health priorities safe pregnancy and childbirth".

UN member governments adopted the Millennium Goals in September 2000. In part, they aim to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.