Ending preventable child and maternal deaths priority at High-level Regional Conference

PANAMA CITY, Sept. 10, 2013  — At the Promise Renewed for the Americas conference today, 26 Ministers of Health from Latin America and the Caribbean and seven international partners signed the Declaration of Panama pledge to end all preventable child and maternal deaths by 2035. The Declaration of Panama is a call-to-action for the region since no mother or child's health should be determined by their ethnic group or economic status, and is part of the global Promise Renewed commitment to child survival.

This is one of the most important agreements by governments in the Americas and international agencies in the fight to end preventable maternal and infant child deaths in the region, which is directly aligned with the Millennium Development Goals on this issue.

"It is now critical to galvanize the region's efforts and mobilize resources to accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the anticipated post-2015 agenda."
-The Declaration of Panama

Latin America and the Caribbean have made great progress in reducing infant and child mortality, better than any other developing region in the world. However, there remain huge inequalities in maternal and child health for poor, indigenous, rural, and other disadvantaged groups. In this region, 48% of under age 5 deaths are neonatal deaths, 31% are due to infections, and 29% due to birth asphyxia — and almost all are preventable. On average, up to 95% of indigenous children are malnourished; stunting is 20% more prevalent among them; and their life expectancy is 7 to 13 years shorter than the national average.

With this commitment, each country and international partner has agreed to work toward ending socio-economic and ethnic inequities in health outcomes, with the following actions:

  1. Establish National Plans and Strategies Using Evidence-based Health Research
  2. Promote Universal Health Coverage
  3. Expand Regional Cooperation and Increase Strategic Alliances
  4. Mobilize Political Leadership
  5. Develop a Country Roadmap to Mark and Report Progress

Over the next two days at the A Promise Renewed for the Americas conference, governments; non-profit, faith-based, and international health organizations; private sector; and international donors will use the declaration as a framework to generate commitment and mechanisms for working jointly to improve the health and survival of all children in the LAC region. A roadmap for the region will be announced at the conclusion of the conference on September 12.

The meeting is hosted by the Government of Panama and sponsored by the following partners: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the Salud Mesoamérica 2015 Initiative (SM2015), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children's Fund Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNICEF/TACRO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank.

SOURCE A Promise Renewed for the Americas: Reducing inequities in reproductive, maternal, and child health