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Stronger Health Systems and Better Maternal Health Critical to African Development, Japan Summit Affirms
Date:5/30/2008

YOKOHAMA, Japan, May 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Stronger health systems, improved maternal and child health, and effective prevention of AIDS and other infectious diseases are essential to African development, more than 40 heads of State agreed today.

These health priorities were highlighted in the action plan adopted at the close of a three-day summit here hosted by Japan. Some 86 countries were represented, along with many international organizations.

Under the theme, "Towards a vibrant Africa: A continent of hope and opportunity," the meeting sought ways to accelerate economic growth, achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), foster peace and good governance, and respond to environmental concerns and climate change. Participants adopted a Yokohama Declaration and Action Plan for addressing these issues.

For UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the attention given to reproductive health issues was heartening.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced that Japan would double its bilateral development assistance to Africa by 2012, train 100,000 African health workers and increase its support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He also identified population as a critical concern for Africa's development, and offered assistance in improving maternal and child health.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told the plenary that "Africa as a region is lagging" in efforts to achieve the MDGs by 2015. She reported that an MDG Africa Steering Group of international development partners had identified key investments needed in agriculture, education, health systems, child survival, transport, energy, water and sanitation, and broadband connectivity.

Elaborating on these recommendations at a press conference, Ms. Migiro singled out preventing women's deaths during pregnancy and childbirth - MDG 5 - as particularly challenging. "Reducing maternal mortality lies at the heart
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SOURCE UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund
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