Australia’s Involvement

UN’s Millennium Development Goals (4 & 5)

Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health

Australia is committed to supporting African governments to improve their progress against the following Millennium Development Goals:

  • MDG 4—Reduce child mortality
  • MDG 5—Improve maternal health.

In Africa, close to one in seven children dies before the age of 5 and one in 22 women die in childbirth. Contributing factors include high fertility rates due to a lack of access to family planning services, lack of access to newborn care, common diseases (diarrhoea and malaria), and high rates of malnutrition and anaemia in women and children. Access to health services is constrained by mobile populations and lack of trained health personnel. Strong health systems are needed to save lives and keep women and children well.

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Australia-Africa Maternal and Child Health Initiative

Under the five-year (2011–2015) $140 million Australia–Africa Maternal and Child Health Initiative in Africa, Australia works with partners in East Africa to strengthen health systems for improved maternal, neonatal and child health outcomes, support midwifery training, improve basic and emergency obstetric and newborn care, and expand access to family planning services.

In 2011, Australia developed a $45 million program of support (2012–2015) for Ethiopia’s Health Sector Development Program which has been recognised for its success in delivering expanded access to health services over the past 10 years. For example, under-5 mortality dropped from 123 to 88 per 1,000 live births between 2005 and 2010, and the contraceptive prevalence rate increased dramatically from 6 to 29 per cent from 2000 to 2010. Australian Aid funding will support the program to increase access to quality health services, particularly for women and children.

In South Sudan, where one in seven women die in childbirth—the highest maternal mortality rate in the world—the government’s new health policy prioritises primary health care with a focus on maternal and child health.

In June 2012, Australia made a commitment to provide $35 million to the United Kingdom-led South Sudan Health Pooled Fund. This will assist in South Sudan’s transition from purely short-term humanitarian assistance to a long-term development approach.

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In 2011 Australia contributed to the following results:

  • Over 2.2 million children were vaccinated against measles, 2.6 million were vaccinated against polio, 2 million were dewormed and 2.3 million received Vitamin A supplements in Tanzania through a partnership with USAID.
  • Over 25,000 children received their final dose of diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus vaccinations in targeted districts of east Africa through partnerships with non-government organisations.
  • Nearly 500 additional births were attended by a skilled birth attendant in targeted districts of Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.
  • An estimated 7,000 babies were delivered safely, 10,000 women were provided with ante-natal care and 150 students were mentored through the United Nations Population Fund in South Sudan.
  • Approximately 624,660 women have access to effective contraception for an entire year through a partnership with Tanzania and USAID.
  • Student capacity has increased from 40 to 80 students at a public midwifery school in Tanzania supported by a partnership with the Western Australian government.
  • An estimated 13,000 women living in remote areas received cervical cancer and sexual health screening services from newly-established mobile outreach teams in Kenya and Tanzania through a partnership with Marie Stopes International Australia.

Regional and Global Responses

Australia will also continue to collaborate with regional organisations, including the African Union, where support will be provided for continent-wide advocacy including the Maputo Plan of Action and the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa.

Australia will continue to be a willing partner in efforts to unite global responses to the challenges. Australia is a strong supporter of the Global Fund on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, contributing $240 million since 2004 and pledging a further $180 million to the end of 2013. As a leader in HIV and AIDS research, Australia is working more closely with African states ahead of the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne in 2014.