Press Releases

31 March 2005

Child, Maternal Mortality “Overlooked and Underreported Health Crisis”, Says Secretary-General in World Health Day Message

NEW YORK, 30 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message on World Health Day, observed 7 April:

Children are our future, and their mothers are its guardians.  And yet, this year alone, more than half a million women will die in pregnancy or childbirth.  Almost 11 million children will die before they reach the age of five -- 4 million of them in the first month of life.  Almost all these deaths will happen in developing countries.  A large number of them could be prevented.

This overlooked and underreported health crisis provides the focus of “The World Health Report 2005 -- Make every mother and child count”.  They count because we value every human life.  And they count because healthy mothers and children are the bedrock of healthy and prosperous communities and nations.

When adopting the Millennium Development Goals five years ago, the world’s governments promised, by the year 2015, to reduce maternal deaths by three quarters and cut child mortality by two thirds.  While there has been progress in some regions, there has been stagnation in others.  In some countries, progress has even been reversed.

World Health Day is an opportunity to highlight the problem, but above all, to stimulate action.  It is an occasion to call on all partners -- governments, international donors, civil society, the private sector, the media, families and individuals alike -- to develop sustainable activities for the survival, health and well-being of mothers and children.  On this World Health Day, let us rededicate ourselves to that mission.

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