Address by Cathy McLeod, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and for Western Economic Diversification: Announcement of Funding to UNICEF for Humanitarian Assistance in Democratic Republic of the Congo
OTTAWA, Canada, July 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Check Against Delivery
Thank you for joining us.
We are here today to discuss a global initiative that came together under Canada’s leadership.
In 2010, Canada hosted the G-8 where the Prime Minister launched the Muskoka Initiative.
This initiative put maternal, newborn and child health at the forefront of global development efforts.
It received global support and leveraged $7.8 billion from governments, as well as NGOs.
It also mobilized Canadians.
As a country, we stood up and decided that we cannot stand idly by while women and children around the world suffer and die from largely preventable causes.
Since then, we have made significant progress.
We have nearly halved the number of child deaths, and done the same on the maternal side.
But we still have much to do, if we are to reach our ultimate goal: eliminating the preventable deaths of women and children.
That is why the Prime Minister hosted the Saving Every Woman, Every Child Summit in Toronto last May.
Why Canada once again drew the world’s attention to these crucial issues.
We convened experts, governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society to determine what we must do next.
To determine how we make sure that mothers and children in all corners of the world are thriving.
As the Prime Minister announced at the summit, Canada will provide $3.5 billion to continue our work through to 2020, to support that goal.
What strikes me most about this story is the incredible contradiction that exists between life in the developing world and life here in Canada.
A mother here is no different from a mother in Haiti, Nigeria, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Her primary goal is to keep her children healthy and safe.
And yet, the realities of pregnancy and motherhood in the developed and the developing world are drastically different.
For Canadian families it is simply unimaginable that, in 2014, giving birth could put your life at risk.
And it is inconceivable that babies and children could still be dying from undernutrition and diseases like polio or tuberculosis.
For most of us in this country access to quality medical care is a given.
It is there when we need it.
Because it is vitally important.
And this is not simply a health story.
This is a development story.
It is a human story.
And it is a story that desperately needs our attention.
Because no mother should ever lose her life creating another.
And no child should die before having had a chance to live.
When a mother survives, hope survives.
As does the promise of a better tomorrow.
And the opportunity to lead a healthy and fulfilling life.
Mothers and their children are at the centre of their communities.
When they thrive, entire communities thrive with them.
That is why maternal, newborn and child health is Canada’s top development priority.
Another important Canadian priority is the provision of humanitarian assistance to people affected by crises in the developing world.
In this context, I am pleased to announce that Canada is contributing $3 million to support UNICEF’s humanitarian operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Although this funding is not a part of Canada’s specific commitments under the MNCH initiative, it is a fine example of how Canada is also addressing the life-saving needs of women and children in humanitarian contexts.
Ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in large-scale displacement of populations, significant protection needs, and the destruction of assets, livelihoods, and basic infrastructure.
Currently, an estimated 6.3 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo require humanitarian assistance —an increase of nearly one million people since 2013.
Food insecurity is widespread, an estimated 2.5 million children under five are malnourished, and more than 2.8 million Congolese have been displaced from their homes.
And, sadly, vulnerable women and children bear the brunt of this crisis.
We want to give them a chance.
Canada’s support will provide these women and children with access to some of the very basic necessities of life—safe water and proper sanitation.
It will improve their access to primary healthcare services and protect them from disease by providing vaccinations.
It will provide treatment for those who are severely malnourished.
And it will offer protection to those who are vulnerable, including survivors of sexual violence and children who were formerly associated with armed forces and groups.
As you can imagine, these are all significant contributions to promote the safety and survival of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a necessary precursor to our efforts under the MNCH initiative.
This support is an example of our commitment to women and children, whether it be to improving their health or providing them protection and assistance in humanitarian crises.
The MNCH Summit in Toronto reaffirmed that we are on the right track.
That saving every woman and every child is within arm’s reach.
And that re-doubling our efforts is a necessity if we are to meet our goals.
We need to scale up what works. Focus on results.
And build our programs on a solid foundation of accountability.
We have to put a greater focus on newborn survival.
Increase our efforts on nutrition.
Accelerate progress on maternal health.
Strengthen civil registration and vital statistics systems.
And look to new and innovative financing tools and partnerships.
We need to sustain the gains we have made.
But more importantly, we must move the bar higher on a number of critical fronts.
We know the symptoms. We have diagnosed the problem. And we have the solutions at hand.
The last leg of this journey will be the toughest.
But it will also be the most critical and most rewarding.
Opportunities for dialogue—like the one we have here today—are key markers along the road to better maternal, newborn and child health in all parts of the world.
Together, we will look to new solutions.
Involve new partners.
And ensure our $3.5 billion investment will produce results for mothers and children around the world.
These consultations will contribute directly to Canadian efforts to end the preventable deaths of mothers and children.
Saving every woman and every child is within arm’s reach.
But we must all work together:
NGOs, private sector, governments, and citizens.
On that note, I thank you for being here today and look forward to your thoughts.
Canada – Ministry of Foreign Affairs