Written by By Gary Cohen, Executive VP of BD and Founder, Together for Girls, By Jim Mercy, Special Advisor, Division of Violence Prevention, CDC and Prevention, By Michele Moloney-Kitts, Director, Together for Girls and Special Advisor to the Executive Director of UNAIDS, and By Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection, Programme Division, UNICEF
Zawadi (not her real name), a young girl from the Hai District of Tanzania, was 12 when her stepfather began sexually abusing her after her mother’s death. Her teacher became suspicious and eventually took Zawadi to the police station’s Gender and Children Desk to report the crime, where she was linked up with a social welfare officer and placed in the care of a foster parent.
“The district social welfare officer was heavily involved and supportive throughout the case,” says Zawadi’s foster mother, who praises the justice system’s response. “I accompanied her to court, and her testimony was supported by the magistrate. The police were also in regular contact about the court date.”
Zawadi’s perpetrator is now serving a 30-year prison sentence.
I can remember the moment when I decided to take up the cause of campaigning against early and forced marriages. Shortly after I was appointed Canada’s Foreign Minister back in 2011, I travelled to Perth, Australia to take part in the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Before the leaders arrive, foreign ministers usually get together both formally and informally to discuss a broad range of topics, usually ending with a final negotiation of the communiqué text. More often than not, these discussions are short as our officials have usually completed most of the negotiations.
As the world focuses on the post-2015 development agenda, we must continue to look for ways to improve financing for health. As a global health community, we have made significant progress during the past 15 years and it would be a shame to allow a reversal of this progress because of a lack of adequate funds. This will require an unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration between donor, recipient nations, the private sector and global health implementers.
The focus on financing for health is as important for continuing the successes we have made over the past 15 years, as it is to helping us address new challenges. The rise of non-communicable disease threatens our fragile health systems with complicated, often expensive diseases. NCDs often exacerbate the doctor and nurse shortages that many developing nations face as an adequate approach to addressing NCDs, usually includes advanced training in oncology or surgery for example.
In August, I was privileged to be in Beijing with Chinese state leaders and African Ministers of Health at a watershed moment in global solidarity for health. At the Ministerial Forum of China-Africa Health Development, we witnessed the beginning of a new era of cooperation between China
and Africa, carrying with it the potential to save and improve millions of lives.
The outcome of the forum was the Beijing Declaration—a bold new commitment by Ministers of Health from China and Africa, joined by international organizations, who have pledged to work together to achieve “sustainable, long-term health solutions.”
Ending preventable maternal deaths within the next generation is within our reach. On April 12, the Lancet reported in a special issue, that virtually ending preventable deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea of children under five, which currently cause one third of the burden of under-five mortality, could be a reality by 2025. These are ambitious global goals. Yet they are achievable if real progress happens not only in countries where the burden is currently greatest, but also by reaching the most vulnerable population in every country, giving equal access to life-saving interventions to all.
Improving women’s and children’s health is critically important to almost every area of human development and progress. Healthy women and children help build healthy societies which are the foundation of successful economies, prosperity, political stability and social harmony. Unsurprisingly, the condition of children and women is a good indicator of progress on other development issues such as governance and equity.