Advocating for maternal, newborn and child health - Canada's nurses speak up

OTTAWA, June 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Members of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) voted unanimously at their annual meeting to call upon the federal government, as the host of the G8 Summit, to push for international consensus on a sustained, comprehensive, rights-based global strategy for maternal, newborn and child health.

The motion was immediately supported by a number of nursing organizations including the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), the Canadian Association for International Nursing, the Community Health Nurses of Canada, the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (A.N.A.C.), and the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses-Canada.

This united front of nursing groups further advocates for the development of maternal health policies and strategies at the federal level to immediately address the difficult conditions faced by too many women and mothers in Canada, particularly among First Nations, Inuit, Métis and other vulnerable populations.

Recent figures released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that Canada's infant mortality ranking slipped from 6th place to 24th place internationally. "While many believe that infant mortality is a problem faced only by developing countries, the harsh reality is that in many parts of Canada, levels are alarmingly high," said Audrey Lawrence, executive director of A.N.A.C. Studies report, for example, that the infant mortality rate for Inuit babies in Canada is over three times that of non-native newborns. Factors such as poor access to health services, inadequate housing and lack of safe drinking water are contributing to this inequity.

CNA president Kaaren Neufeld responded that "nurses across Canada are expressing their deep concern for the over 340,000 annual maternal deaths worldwide - most of which are preventable - and the lack of progress on United Nations Millennium Development Goals No. 4 (reduce child mortality) and No. 5 (improve maternal health). It's time to put our money where our mouth is."

"Canada and other G8 countries must be held accountable for inclusive, equitably accessible sexual and reproductive health services that promote the well-being of women," said Linda Silas, the president of CFNU, who brought forth the motion. "We challenge world leaders to make a significant investment towards improving the health of mothers and children. The dividend will be paid out in lives saved."

SOURCE Canadian Nurses Association

For further information: For further information: Paul Watson, Communications Coordinator, Canadian Nurses Association, (613) 697-7507 mobile, E-mail: pwatson@cna-aiic.ca; Lisa Brazeau, Director of Corporate Communications, Canadian Nurses Association, (613) 864-1371 mobile, E-mail: lbrazeau@cna-aiic.ca

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