Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Harper, Baird Fan out in NYC to Push Canada's Efforts on Maternal, Child Health

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Harper, Baird Fan out in NYC to Push Canada's Efforts on Maternal, Child Health

Article excerpt

Harper speaks out on maternal health

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NEW YORK, United Nations - Action trumps rhetoric, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a United Nations panel on maternal and child health Wednesday as he outlined $203 million over five years to help mothers and babies in developing countries.

Harper said Canada would back nine specific projects that will help to pay for more immunizations, provide basic health care and set up community services to ease the dangers of childbirth and pregnancy.

"The world is making significant progress in improving the health of women and children in developing countries and reducing the unacceptable mortality rates faced by these vulnerable populations," Harper said.

"Canada is at the forefront of these efforts and I am proud that through today's support, more women and children will benefit from better nutrition, increased food security and access to important, life saving vaccines."

The money detailed Wednesday is part of Canada's commitment of nearly $3 billion over five years to the issue of maternal and child health, part of the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health launched by G8 partners at the Muskoka Summit in 2010.

Before the maternal health panel, Harper met privately with computer billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates. Harper said their international charitable foundation is a great partner for Canada.

Harper also said Canada will host an international meeting next year to ensure program providers are accountable for the money they spend.

Helene Laverdiere, the NDP's international development critic, was quick to slam the government not only for re-announcing three-year-old funding, but for failing to include support for reproductive health.

"Canada's Muskoka funding should have included funding for women to access sexual and reproductive health services, including emergency contraception and safe abortion," Laverdiere said in a statement.

She also assailed the government for rejecting last week's call from the UN Human Rights Council for a comprehensive national review of violence against aboriginal women.

"Under Harper, it's clear that Canada is not a real leader on women's health and women's rights."

Continuing on the theme of protecting women and children, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was also in New York on Wednesday, co-hosting a panel on child, early and forced marriage. …

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