Tuesday 16 October 2007 at 10:30 am
in Committee Room 6, Palace of Westminster
Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UNFPA Executive Director and UN Under Secretary-General
Dr Francisco Songane, Director, Partnership For Maternal, Newborn & Child Health
Dr Grace Kodindo, Assistant Professor of Emergency Obstetrics Care, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
This is the first evidence session in the maternal health inquiry. The first panel, featuring two directors of multilateral maternal health initiatives, offers the chance to explore global-level strategies to improve maternal health. Thoraya Obaid is Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and is one of the UN’s Under Secretaries-General. UNFPA works at the interface of population issues, maternal and reproductive health and gender equality. DFID is one of its largest donors. Dr Francisco Songane is Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, a global health initiative launched in 2005 that aims to “intensify and harmonise” international efforts towards MDGs 4 and 5, seeking to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.
The second panel offers the opportunity to explore the reality of developing country maternal healthcare from the perspective of an obstetrician, Dr Grace Kodindo, who works in Chad, a country with one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates. Dr Kodindo’s work in Chad was highlighted in the 2005 BBC Panorama film Dead Mums Don’t Cry. Dr Kodindo works part-time as Assistant Clinical Professor of Emergency Obstetrics Care at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York and as Medical Advocacy Advisor to the Reproductive Health Access, Information and Services in Emergency Settings (RAISE) Initiative, co-led by Columbia University and Marie Stopes International.
The inquiry is focusing on the following points:
How donors - and DFID specifically - can catalyse progress towards MDG 5
How effectively DFID is working with recipient countries to make emergency obstetric care available and to ensure that adequate numbers of skilled birth attendants and other staff are being trained to meet MDG 5, and are integrated within a robust health system
The steps DFID is taking to mainstream maternal health across related policies
How achieving MDG 5 is being prioritised and integrated into countries’ overall healthcare provision
How DFID is supporting the 2006 recommendation by the UN General Assembly for an MDG target for universal access to reproductive health
The progress being made in reducing maternal deaths from unsafe abortion (which account for 13% of all maternal deaths)
How effective family planning is being promoted as a way to improve maternal health
How effectively DFID works with bilateral and multilateral donors, NGOs and other stakeholders to promote maternal health
What leadership the UN is providing and how well co-ordinated its agencies are
How DFID is addressing socio-economic barriers to women’s empowerment and the low status of women in relation to maternal health
How the international community can improve maternal health in crisis and conflict settings.
The membership of the Committee is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Quentin Davies MP (Con), James Duddridge MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Joan Ruddock MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh MP (Lab), Sir Robert Smith MP (Lib Dem)
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