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Statement from Minister Paradis on World Health Day

April 7, 2015 – On World Health Day, we celebrate the significant progress that has been made in global health in the past few decades and reflect on the work that remains to be done. Canada’s number one development priority is maternal, newborn and child health because we believe that the health of women and children is the key to achieving other development objectives.

In 2010, thanks to the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada led the G-8 Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Since then, we have delivered on our Muskoka commitments, disbursing 100 percent of the $2.85 billion we pledged toward improving women’s and children’s health. In May 2014, the Prime Minister mobilized the global community once again by hosting the highly successful Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach summit in Toronto. There, the Prime Minister committed an additional $3.5 billion to improve the health of mothers and children between 2015 and 2020.

Thanks to Canada’s sustained leadership and the incredible work of our Canadian and global partners, we now stand on the verge of making it possible to end the preventable deaths of women and children within a generation. Support for immunization efforts has been a critical part of this success. In November 2014, Prime Minister Harper announced that Canada was contributing $500 million to help implement the 2016-2020 strategy of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. These funds will contribute to Gavi’s efforts to immunize an additional 300,000 children by 2020. In January 2015, at the Gavi Replenishment Conference in Berlin, we announced an additional $20 million to Gavi in support of immunization efforts in Francophonie countries. These funds are in addition to the significant funds Canada has provided to Gavi to date, as well as our support of Gavi’s Advance Market Commitment for pneumococcal vaccines. Since its creation, Gavi has driven unprecedented progress in immunizations, immunizing half a billion children.

On nutrition, Canada is proud to support the Micronutrient Initiative, a Canadian organization that is dedicated to ensuring the world’s most vulnerable people have the vitamins and minerals they need to survive and thrive. With our government’s support, the Micronutrient Initiative provides an average of more than 180 million children under five with two doses of vitamin A each year, an average of more than 300 million people with iodized salt to prevent iodine deficiency each year, nearly two million pregnant women with iron and folic acid supplements each year for healthier pregnancies, and more than 60,000 children with improved treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

Canada is also a top donor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), a partnership between the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The GPEI’s goal is polio eradication by 2018. At the 2013 Abu Dhabi Global Vaccine Summit, Canada committed $250 million to the GPEI Endgame Strategy Plan for 2013-2018. Since its establishment in 1988, the GPEI has reduced new polio cases by 99 percent.

Canada is also a key supporter of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an innovative international health financing partnership that includes governments, private foundations, civil society and the private sector. In 2013, Prime Minister Harper pledged $650 million to the Global Fund over three years, representing an increase of over 20 percent from our last replenishment funding, announced in 2010. With programs in more than 140 countries, the Global Fund has reached 7.3 million people with antiretroviral therapy for AIDS, tested and treated 12.3 million people for tuberculosis and distributed 450 million insecticide-treated nets to protect families against malaria.

The Ebola epidemic reminds us that we shouldn’t underestimate the value of these investments beyond maternal, newborn and child health. Strengthening national health systems, for example, is not only a critical investment in the sustainable improvement of women’s and children’s health, it also ensures that we can better respond to new and emerging health crises like the one facing West Africa today. That is why Canada has been at the forefront of the international response to Ebola since April 2014, providing financial support as well as sending skilled and experienced health care professionals, protective equipment, rotational mobile laboratories and 800 vials of Canada’s experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trial research.

On World Health Day, Canadians can be proud of our government’s sustained leadership on maternal, newborn and child health and our commitment to ensuring that it remains an important global priority.

Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

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Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
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