Delhi Declaration on ending preventable maternal and child deaths adopted by 22 countries

New Delhi, August 28, 2015:  The two-day global ‘Call to Action Summit 2015’ concluded today with Health Ministers and heads of country delegations from 22 countries adopting the DELHI DECLARATION on ‘ending preventable maternal and child deaths’. The declaration was developed as an outcome of the high-level ministerial conclave held yesterday during the summit.

The Call to Action Summit 2015, held on 27-28 August 2015 in New Delhi, was co-hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and the Health Ministry of Ethiopia, in partnership with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Tata Trusts, UNICEF, USAID and WHO.

Participants at 2015 Call to Action Summit in India

Participants at 2015 Call to Action Summit in India

The Honorable Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Shri J. P. Nadda, in his address as the Chair for the valedictory session of the summit urged all leaders from participating countries to “commit to a culture of evidence-based decision-making, strengthen accountability of national health systems and align resources to those with the greatest need.” During the address, he also assured that, “India will lead the efforts to demonstrate global progress in maternal and child health by working closely with global partners to make sure that the post 2015 development agenda will advance the cause of ending preventable child and maternal deaths.”

Heads of co-host organisations and partners including Mr. Richard Verma, US Ambassador to India; Ms. Geeta Rao Gupta,  Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF; Mr. Girindre Beeharry, Country Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Mr. R K Krishna Kumar, Trustee, Tata Trusts and Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO (SEARO) joined the ministerial delegations during the adoption of the DELHI DECLARATION and pledged their commitment and support to ending preventable deaths of children and mothers.

The Summit provided a platform for the Health Ministers of 24 nations, Health Ministers from states of India, academic experts, health practitioners and global leaders from diverse sectors – corporate, civil society and media to deliberate on the importance of Systems, Partnerships, Innovations, Convergence, and Evidence in ending all preventable maternal and child deaths.

The Additional Secretary and Mission Director (National Health Mission), Shri C K Mishra, outlined the commitments made by the countries in the Delhi Declaration. During the session that he chaired on “Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent Health’ he said, “Maternal and child health needs more resources and it is important to ensure accountability and maximisation of its impact.” The session examined ways to accelerate progress beyond 2015 on maternal and child health goals. The panel recommended that adolescent health, particularly of the girl child, should be given centre-stage in order to improve the health of mothers and the children they bear.

The session on ‘Moving towards Scale’ put the spotlight on the child survival interventions that have worked well in low and middle-income countries. India shared its experience in scaling up the immunization programme and policy makers from other countries offered solutions on how affordable primary health care services in urban areas could be expanded.  Game changing technologies for healthcare delivery were presented by experts and innovators, who also discussed the eco-systems required to foster innovations for child and maternal care: use of mobile phones, emergency transport, health education, and referral systems, to name a few.

H.E. Dr. Aminata Keita, the First Lady of the Republic of Mali chaired the session named, ‘Survive, Thrive, and Transform’, where the importance of the continuum of care in the prevention of malnutrition, diarrhea and newborn deaths was discussed. The session also touched on the inter connections between health, safe water, sanitation, gender empowerment and rural development. The session on Health Financing featured a discussion on financial models of health service delivery, fund management and utilization, public sector purchase of health services from or outsourcing to the private sector and ensuring accountability and governance in fund management.

In order to maintain the momentum in ending preventable child and maternal deaths in any country, government efforts are not enough. The session on corporate partnerships brought together development partners and the corporate sector to discuss the contributions that could be made by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and philanthropists and foundations to support this agenda.  In the final session on Accountability for Results, Shri Bhanu Pratap Sharma, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare said that, “Evidence based decision making and community level accountability are the cornerstones of a functional and impactful public health service delivery system.” He also highlighted the existing accountability structures within the National Health Mission.

The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the Summit yesterday and announced another major milestone achieved by India for children and mothers by eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. In his inaugural address, the Hon’ble PM said, “I firmly believe that this summit will provide a highly effective platform to address common challenges that will help countries achieve the desired goals for maternal and child health.” The Prime Minister released a coffee table book ‘Born to Be’ depicting key milestones in 25 years of India’s progress in maternal and child health’. He also released the USAID report ‘Acting on the Call: Ending Preventable Child And Maternal Deaths’ that outlines the plan to save 15 million children and 600,000 women by 2020.

Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu, Minister of Health, Ethiopia, said, “We will hold ourselves accountable to the commitments of DELHI DECLARATION through regular monitoring of progress through this joint platform, and promote cross-learning, knowledge sharing and collaboration among the 22 nations to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children.”

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