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  June, 2009 - UN ECOSOC Office for Support and Coordination

Dr. Nikhil Seth
ECOSOC - Office for Support and Coordination


At a time when the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) devotes its Annual Ministerial Review to "Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health", the Summit organized by the World Family Organization on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 in Cairo, Egypt, in December 2008, could not be more timely and relevant. I thank WFO for ensuring this themactic coherence between the focus of its Annual Summit and the themes of the high-level metings of ECOSOC.

As the world is going through a deep financial and economic crisis, it is of utmost importance that the level of attention and support to the health sector remains high in development policies. The global community should keep a numbe of facts and figures in mind that call, without ambiguity, for continued efforts in key aspects of both health and family life. For example, maternal health which is a prerequisite for family health as a whole, is the Millennium Development Goal on which least progress has been made. Today, a woman in a least dedveloped country is 300 times more likely to die in childbirth or grom pregnancy-related complications than a women in a developed country. Making pregnancy and childbirth safer should be a globally shared objective, with a strong mobilization by all.

Other demographic changes affect the family and call for new and stronger public policies. For example, as people are living longer, in developed coutnries but also increasingly in other countries, new forms of solidarity are needed within the Family and by public institutions to ensure that health care is provided to the elderly. Single parent and reconstituted families are also new dimensions that call for rethinking public interventions. The impact of HIV/AIDS on the family, particularly in southern and eastern Africa where grandparents are raising their grandchildren or where families can be headed by a child, testify to the importance of a more resolute action towards additional funding to health systems and the development of human resources in this field.

The Cairo Declaration provides comprehensive recommendations for the strengthening of health systems that are useful for the consideration of the matter by the UN Economic and Social Council. As in many development fields, success will depend on the capacity of various public anbd non-governmental actors to act together and create synergies. The bridging of partnerships, including family and women's movements with other type of civil actors, including faith based organizations and human rights networks, will be necessary to promote understanding and advancing common objectivs and action for improving global public health.

The Economic and Social Council is committed to mobilizing the international community to accelerate the progress towards achieving the health related Millennium Development Goalsa and internionally agreed development goals in general. The Council will review progress made and challenges to the achievement of the goals and targets at its substantive session, to be held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva in the month of July, with its High-Level Segment (6-9 July) specifically devoted to global public health. I am glad to be able to count on the World Family Organization to take an active part in this global endeavor.

    Dr. Nikhil Seth
ECOSOC - Office for Support and Coordination
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