PAHO's assistant director, Socorro Gross (center), joined former U.S. President Bill Clinton (center left), and Tom Kalil, chairman of the Clinton Global Initiative's Global Health Working Group (center right), along with other CGI partners to celebrate new commitments made in New York in September. Photo by Juliana Thomas/Clinton Global Initiative
"Commitment to Action" seeks $60.5 million to improve mother-child health in 10 Latin American countries
An international program that will benefit 750,000mothers-to be and 1.5 million children in 10 Latin American countries was announced by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) at the 2008 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting in New York City in late September.
CGI, led by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, brings together world leaders, philanthropists, celebrities, and members of the international development community to discuss global problems and to mobilize resources to support projects and programs aimed at solving them.
The PAHO program on maternal and child health was announced at the meeting by PAHO Assistant Director Socorro Gross. Developed by PAHO's Area of Family and Community Health, the program seeks $60.5 million from donors to support a series of proven, low-cost interventions aimed at saving the lives and improving the health of women and young children in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Peru.
The PAHO program was announced as part of CGI's Water and Sanitation Mega-Commitment and was one of 10 Commitments
to Action by United Nations agencies presented at this year's meeting.
Among the cost-effective interventions proposed in the PAHO program are micronutrient supplementation and deworming tablets for pregnant women and promotion of safe baby deliveries through better hygiene, delayed umbilical cord clamping, and cord and full-body antiseptic cleansing for newborns.
The program also includes, for children under 2, iron and vitaminA supplementation and promotion of early breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding to prevent chronic malnutrition. It will also distribute pesticide-treated bed nets in malaria endemic areas and promote large-scale communication and social mobilization
campaigns to promote hand washing and basic sanitation.
To implement the program, PAHO will work with ministries of health, municipalities, and other partners, including the U.N. Alliance for Nutrition and Development, to develop local action plans. The emphasis in implementation will be on multisectoral coordination, culturally appropriate communication, and social participation.
Another key development at this year's meeting was a call to action by former President Clinton to help victims of Haiti's recent natural disasters. CGI partners pledged to help Haiti "build back better," committing some $130 million to provide food, clean water, seeds, and fertilizers; to rebuild homes, schools, and bridges; and to improve education for more than 600,000 Haitian students.
Since its launching in 2005, CGI has mobilized nearly 1,200 commitments worth some $46 billion, benefitting more than 200 million people in over 150 countries. In 2007, donors to the initiative pledged at least $112 million to address social and environmental problems around the world. Among the largest pledges were $300 million from the Intel Foundation for online teacher-training programs and $100 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to improve health care in Africa. New commitments for 2008 are expected to impact more than 158 million lives.
Participants in this year's CGI meeting in New York included more than 1,000 leaders from business, government, international, and nongovernmental organizations from six continents, including nearly 60 current and former heads of state and five Nobel Peace Prize winners.