Ipas supports innovative global campaigns to reduce maternal deaths

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ipas supports innovative global campaigns to reduce maternal deaths

Next week, world leaders will gather for a summit at the United Nations to reaffirm their commitment to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce poverty by 2015.  The fifth MDG calls for reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent and achieving universal access to reproductive health.  

To raise awareness about MDG5 and maternal health, Emmy-winning filmmaker Lisa Russell (director of Ipas’s film, Not Yet Rain) and Grammy-winning singer Maya Azucena (who contributed music for the film) launched their latest project, MDGFive.com.  The site includes creative content by world-renowned musicians and poets, including Zap Mama, DJ Spooky and Carlos Andrés Gómez, as well as visual material from filmmakers and photographers such as Christy Turlington Burns, Paul Blackthorne, and Azfar Rizvi. The site features a “remixer” that can be used to create short videos using a library of music tracks, spoken word, film, and photos supplied by mixed media artists from Brazil, Honduras, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and other countries.  

Along with Ipas, other sponsors of the site include EngenderHealth, the U.N. Population Fund, and Women Deliver. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the creative and collaborative initiative, declaring that “The arts are one of the most powerful ways to build bridges among people from all over the world. MDGFive.com has great potential to reach, inform, and mobilize people to make a difference for women’s and children’s health.”

Ipas is also a co-sponsor of the year-long campaign to raise awareness specifically about the second half of MDG5, universal access to reproductive health. Called “A Promise is a Promise,” the campaign highlights the critical importance of reproductive health to other development issues, such as empowering women and girls and building a more sustainable world for all people.

Past investments in maternal health are getting results.  According to a new report by several U.N. agencies, maternal mortality has decreased by 34 per cent from an estimated 546,000 in 1990 to 358,000 in 2008.  As the report points out “safe abortion services (where abortion is not prohibited by law)” are part of the comprehensive, integrated package of essential interventions and services to which women should have access.

Ipas President and CEO Elizabeth Maguire, adds, “Even with encouraging news about a drop in maternal deaths, the job is not done.  We need to build a broader movement in support of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, and creative advocacy campaigns will help.”