Women in developing nations are 100 times more likely to die in childbirth than Canadian women. The child mortality rate in these developing nations is also vastly higher than it is in Canada, an alien would be hard pressed to believe that we share the same planet as these people and care as little as we do. The reasons for this disparity is surprisingly uncomplicated and as Canadians we can do something about this. In fact, we already are.
In June 2010, the leaders of the G8 nations pledged $7.3 billion ($1.1b from Canada) over the next five years towards this goal. Canada will also provide another $1.75 billion in ongoing spending on maternal and child health programming. This is called the Muskoka initiative. You can click the link to see exactly how this money will be spent (hopefully).
Over the next five years, the World Health Organization and the World Bank estimate that the Muskoka Initiative will;
- prevent the deaths of 1.3 million children under five years of age
- prevent the deaths of 64,000 mothers
- give access to modern methods of family planning for 12 million couples
Canada's focus will be in the following 10 countries where we have taken a leadership role;
Committing funding to programs like these is all very well and good, but often times there is very little accountability in the countries where the money is supposed to be spent. Unfortunately, the health of women and children are sometimes not a very high priority in these nations. There is often very little transparency in developing nations where graft and corruption are often normal business practices.
As Canadians we should demand that our money is being spent properly.
As such, World Vision Canada has developed a simple petition which they plan to present to Stephen Harper. The petition is called Petition for Muskoka Initiative Accountability
and the wording is very simple;
Dear Right Honourable Stephen Harper,
I am proud that the Canadian government created the Muskoka Initiative to help ensure that children and women living in poverty experience good health. It is important to me that my government is openly accountable to its promises. I want the Canadian government to report regularly on how much money has been spent on the Muskoka Initiative and what this money has achieved between now and 2015.
I also know that to track the results of Canadian investment in the 10 Muskoka Initiative countries, those countries will need support to strengthen their accountability frameworks and improve health governance. I am asking the Canadian government to help these 10 countries better monitor and evaluate the impact of investments in child and maternal health in their country.
This is not an unrealistic request, and the Canadian government should really make the effort to report to us how and where the money is going, and how effective the funding has been to date.
If you are Canadian, and agree with this petition, please go here to add your name to it.
Together we can take action to change the world for children. With our voices, we can make a difference.