Saturday, May 31, 2008
The United Nations (UNFPA) organization United Nations Population Fund emphasized the importance of women’s health in Africa at the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV). Priorities of the conference include economic growth, peace and democracy and climate change. The three-day conference which ended Friday included representatives from over 80 countries.
At the conference in Yokohama, Japan, over 40 heads of State agreed on health priorities adopted at the end of the three-day summit. The theme of the conference was “Towards a vibrant Africa: A continent of hope and opportunity”, and approximately 86 countries were represented, as well as international organizations. The Yokohama Action Plan prioritizes universal access to reproductive health services and an increase in the number of African women who give birth with skilled assistance.
Japanese Prime Minister of Japan Yasuo Fukuda announced steps which would be taken by his country to further health conditions in Africa, including: increasing funding to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, training 100,000 African health workers, and doubling the country’s bilateral development assistance to Africa by 2012. “In the future, Africa will become a powerful engine driving the growth of the world,” said Mr. Fukuda at the start of the conference.
The Prime Minister said Japan would offer up to US$4 billion in loans to African countries to go towards agriculture and infrastructure. He announced the formation of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation Facility for African Investment, which will provide $2.5 billion in financial assistance.
|Reducing maternal mortality lies at the heart of implementation to achieve all the other goals.|
United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro cited priority 5 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – preventing women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth as a serious challenge. “Reducing maternal mortality lies at the heart of implementation to achieve all the other goals,” said Migiro.
|…preventing women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth – is generating the least resources and lagging the furthest behind. And African women are paying the price.|
UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid told conference participants that women’s health in Africa should be made a priority. “Of all the Millennium Development Goals, goal number five – preventing women’s deaths during pregnancy and childbirth – is generating the least resources and lagging the furthest behind. And African women are paying the price,” she said. Obaid urged world leaders “to make the health of women a political and development priority”.
TICAD holds summits every five years, and is a joint program between Japan and the United Nations Development Programme. Japan will report the conference results at the Group of Eight (G8) meeting in Tokyo in July, which will be chaired by Prime Minister Fukuda.