SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR RENEWED COMMITMENT TO WOMEN'S HEALTH DURING PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH

SG/SM/6515
6 April 1998

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR RENEWED COMMITMENT TO WOMEN'S HEALTH DURING PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH

6 April 1998


Press Release
SG/SM/6515
OBV/43


SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR RENEWED COMMITMENT TO WOMEN'S HEALTH DURING PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH

19980406 In Message on Occasion of World Health Day, Kofi Annan Pays Tribute to Founders of WHO and All Those Working for Healthier World

Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of World Health Day, 7 April:

Fifty years ago today, the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) came into force. Its central message -- that "the health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest cooperation of individuals and States" -- holds as true now as it did then. And so today, I want to pay tribute to the founders of the WHO and to all those who have worked for the past half century to achieve a healthier world.

The theme of this year's World Health Day is "Safe Motherhood -- the health and survival of women during pregnancy and childbirth". Pregnancy carries risks in every country, in any setting, in all societies. In developed countries, where women have access to special care during pregnancy and childbirth, they rarely lead to death or disability. Yet, in Africa, one woman in 16 will die of pregnancy-related causes, against one in 65 in Asia, one in 130 in Latin America and one in 1,800 in developed nations. In the world as a whole, there are 600,000 maternal deaths a year.

The world knows how to prevent almost all these deaths. These women can be saved at an estimated cost of less than $3 per person per year. But it requires initiatives to overcome the risk factors -- poor maternal health, inadequate care, low standards of hygiene and inappropriate management of delivery. The purpose of this Day is to raise awareness of those factors and to generate new momentum to overcome them.

The entities that make up the United Nations system represent the full range of economic, social and developmental concerns. Promoting and protecting health is a responsibility that cuts across all sectors. On this day, let us join hands with the WHO to reaffirm our renewed commitment to the health of women during pregnancy and childbirth. Let us ensure that giving birth does not cost a woman her life, wherever she may live.

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For information media. Not an official record.