Addis Ababa

27 January 2013

Secretary-General's remarks to Special Event on Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality (CARMMA)

As I look around this room, I see an impressive gathering of top-level leaders.

When it comes to health, you are also grass-roots activists for Africa’s mothers and babies.


President Boni Yayi has personally pledged to make this a priority for the AU.


President Goodluck Jonathan, you and Nigeria are playing a leading role on the Commission on Life-saving Commodities for Women and Children.


The African Union’s CARMMA campaign has shown great progress.  Since it was launched three years ago, more than three dozen countries have joined. I applaud UNFPA for its support. And I thank Dr. Babatunde for his commitment.


By the way, you may know that Babatunde means “father comes back” in Yoruba. This could be our slogan.  We need our fathers and all men to return to this problem until we have solved it.


Thanks to all of you and many others, there has been dramatic progress in a number of African countries – including Ethiopia, which has reduced maternal deaths by 60 per cent.


But there are still too many tragedies across this continent.  Africa is also home to one out of every two women who die in childbirth.


We are here because we are determined to stop these needless maternal deaths. CARMMA is central to our global Every Woman Every Child movement.


We know what it takes to get results:


First, resources for high-impact interventions.


Second, innovative technologies and integrated services to reach even the most remote areas.


And third, scaled up investments in Africa’s women and girls.


To achieve lasting progress, we must advance all of the Millennium Development Goals.


We need to improve education. Enough schooling helps girls grow into women who can shape their destiny, including how many children they choose to have.


We need to address hunger, so that pregnant
and nursing mothers get the nutrition they need during the first crucial 1,000 days of life.


And we need to overcome poverty, so that everyone has access to the services and care they deserve.


Ladies and gentlemen,


I have visited a number of clinics and health posts in different parts of Africa.  In 2011, together with Dr. Babatunde, I visited Nigeria and Ethiopia to spotlight maternal and child health.  Every time and everywhere I went, I have seen tremendous dedication in the eyes of the health workers.  And I have seen, in the women and girls, a great sense of relief and hope just from being at the clinics.


They soothe the worry of expectant mothers having early contractions.  They do essential
check-ups on pregnant women. They vaccinate children against killer diseases.


It is a privilege for me to see these workers in action. And with that privilege comes a responsibility to support them and the women and children they serve.


You have my pledge that the United Nations will do everything possible to support and expand the CARMMA campaign so that we reach our Millennium Development Goals and make motherhood safe all across Africa.


Thank you.