VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 26, 2011) - The Medical Women's International Association says funding for maternal health care must stay front and centre as the first session of the UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health concludes.

Approximately 500,000 women around the globe die each year from pregnancy related causes that are preventable. Another 70,000 die from complications of unsafe abortions. When their mothers die, 80% of children under age one will also die, usually within two years.

Following through on Canada's commitment at the G8 in Muskoka, Ontario Prime Minister Stephen Harper demonstrated Canadian leadership when addressing the goal of improving maternal health and lowering maternal and child mortality. Women around the world need Canada's continued commitment and that of the other countries.

As physicians, we are committed to evidence based solutions and realize that to reach this goal the strategy must include access to a full range of reproductive health programs.

There must be development of strong health care systems, supported by trained health care providers and integrated into whichever local health systems already exist. There need to be community based programs for maternal and child health including preventative programs such as nutrition, public health and vaccination programs. There also need to be programs that continue to work on the big three diseases that ravage sub-Saharan Africa, namely TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS, as these diseases contribute significantly to maternal and child mortality.

As leaders leave the first session of the UN Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health, there needs to be a continued commitment to fund maternal health. Saving women makes economic sense. Women make up half of the world's population, and as women, produce the other half.

The Medical Women's International Association has been in existence since 1919 and is an organization of women physicians from around the world whose mandate is to improve the health of women and children. The national branch is the Federation of Medical Women of Canada.

Contact Information: Medical Women's International Association
Dr. Shelley Ross