By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV, Port Moresby
The United Nations is calling for immediate global action to improve the quality of health care for women and children.
In recognising the roles of women and children in development, the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health highlights the many benefits that improving the healthcare of women and children can have on the overall wellbeing of a nation.
It is known that PNG has a poor standing in the area of women’s healthcare, with reports indicating that the country’s maternal and infant mortality rate remains the highest in the Asia-Pacific region. With PNG ranking very low on global indicators in advancing gender equality and elimination of violence against women, we are considered a ‘priority country’ where women’s issues and the UN are concerned.
As part of a new global strategy, the UN will unveil a plan to address health care for women, adolescents and children in its Sustainable Development Goals 2030. A strategy that is focused on reproductive health, family planning to avoid teen pregnancies and complications associated with teenage pregnancies and involves an integrated approach.
The UN’s new Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health takes into account the poor status of women’s health, especially in developing countries, like Papua New Guinea where access to health facilities is particularly hard for rural communities and the critical shortage of medical professionals, medical supplies and other factors; continue to have detrimental effects on women’s healthcare.
The strategy determines a course for action in enabling global communities to invest more in women’s healthcare, to strengthen policies, and for service delivery and improvement.
WHO representative, Flavia Bustreo, noted that the approach was for world governments to use resources adequately to enhance healthcare.
Addressing challenges associated with women’s and children’s healthcare is crucial to sustainable development; an area that can no longer be overlooked or undervalued.
UN officials estimate that the new global strategy will cost around $80 billion US Dollars to implement over the next 15 years.
Improving the healthcare of women and children will in turn reduce poverty, as women and children become more productive with family income being spent on food, education, and women can actively take part in income generation when they are of sound health. Improved healthcare will also enable women to become economically empowered through small to medium business activities.
Not only is improving women and children’s healthcare the right thing to do, it also realises the fundamental right that they have to accessing quality healthcare and should see the decline of preventable deaths.