Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Opening remarks at press conference to launch the joint effort on Women's and Children's Health

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 14 April 2010

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media.

I am pleased to be joined by President [Jakaya] Kikwete of Tanzania,
Prime Minister [Jens] Stoltenberg of Norway,
Vice-President Boediono of Indonesia,
Minister [Beverly J.] Oda [of Canada], and
Doctor [Margaret] Chan of WHO (World Health Organization).

We are here because too many women die around the world from pregnancy or childbirth-related injuries. We are here because one preventable maternal death is still too many. Hundreds of thousands of deaths are a disgrace, a disgrace we need not tolerate.

And we are here for another reason, as well. We know women are the drivers of progress. In the poorest societies of the world, it is women who care for the children. They grow the crops, hold societies together. Women deliver - and not just babies. And if we deliver for women, we can change the world for the better.

Yet of all the MDGs – Millennium Development Goals - maternal health has advanced the least, and it is a key to all the rest. That is why, today, we are putting women's and children's health front and centre in the push to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

We are here to issue a call to action. We must do more. Everyone here today will do more. And we will call on others to join us.

Healthy mothers raise healthy children. Healthy children grow up stronger and better educated and help build more prosperous societies. And a health system that delivers for mothers and children will deliver for the whole community.

We need to start thinking, today, about how to advance these goals in order to create a better tomorrow. That means a qualified midwife and access to emergency care. This alone would reduce maternal deaths by about three-quarters. It means finding new ways of building and financing better health care systems around the world, especially in the poorest countries. It means coming up with new ways to engage communities, governments and international institutions, as UN partners, working as one. It means bringing the newest technologies to even the most remote places. We need to be able to be able to track progress, determine what works and what does not, and deliver sustainable and effective programmes.

The coming months are critical. We must set the stage for decisive and concerted action at the September MDG summit meeting in New York. We know this is possible. Look what we have done together to fight HIV/AIDS and to put the world on a path to ending deaths from malaria by 2015.

This is something we can do. And this is something we must do. Millions of lives are at stake.

Thank you very much.