Following are UN Deputy Secretary–General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Every Woman, Every Child high-level event and reception “Delivering together for the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents to advance universal health coverage”, in New York today:
I am delighted to be with you today at Every Woman, Every Child’s annual reception. Over the past 30 years, we have made historic progress in improving the health and well-being of women and children. Maternal mortality has decreased by 44 per cent and child mortality has declined by more than half.
However, wide disparities remain. Tragically, we know the current state of play. Ninety-nine per cent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. Children in sub-Saharan Africa are 15 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in high-income countries. And the leading cause of death for 15- to 19-year-olds is complications from pregnancy and childbirth, with the vast majority of these deaths in low- and middle-income countries.
These numbers underscore the imperative of achieving the health targets of the 2030 Agenda if we are to keep our promise to leave no one behind. At the heart of the response is universal health coverage, the umbrella that guides our work at the United Nations. Yesterday’s first-ever high-level meeting on universal health coverage drove this point home.
Realizing the transformative aim of universal health coverage will require access to primary health care, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, based on the principles of equity, access and quality. A basic package of primary-care services alone could prevent more than 3 million deaths among women and children every year. Indeed, primary health care is the foundation of universal health coverage. This was reaffirmed in the Astana Declaration last October, in pursuit of Health for All.
However, its success depends on political commitment and adequate financing. This will require accelerated action by countries, supported by a wide array of organizations and leveraged by the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All, and by Every Woman, Every Child. Every Woman, Every Child is a mature model of a partnership for development and a prime example of innovation at work. It brings together the H6, the Global Financing Facility and the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health in a constructive response to support country priorities and deliver tangible results. Since the launch of the updated Every Woman, Every Child Global Strategy in 2015, Every Woman, Every Child partners have mobilized more than 314 commitments from stakeholders, worth more than $40 billion. But, we still have a way to go to deliver health for all.
Sustainable development cannot become a reality without the economic, social and environmental contribution of women and adolescent girls. Now is the time for targeted investments that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. As we enter a decade of action for the delivery of the SDGs, let us seize the historic opportunity of this week and build on the momentum of the five high-level meetings to firmly integrate women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and well-being at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. A sustainable future is possible but will only be realized when we improve the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents. I count on you to join Every Woman, Every Child on this journey. Thank you.