Back 9 October 2012

XX FIGO Congress: Achieving MDGs 4 and 5

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) has seized the occasion of its 20th World Congress to focus on its role advancing efforts to save the world’s most vulnerable women and children.

The vision and mission of FIGO, a crucial member of the PMNCH Board, reflect the vital role health professional organizations play in the promotion of women’s health and in global efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 to reduce child and maternal mortality specifically – but not only, as most of the MDGs have an impact on women’s health.

“Professional organizations can do a tremendous amount in this respect, from influencing policy decision-making to raising awareness of issues and their solutions, to setting standards, to educating and training healthcare professionals and providers,” declared Professor Gamal Serour, outgoing President of FIGO, at a press conference on the first day of sessions.

Joining forces

“The three-year period 2009-2012 witnessed an unprecedented strengthening of FIGO’s partnerships with governmental, non-governmental, and faith-based organizations, and the private sector, through collaborative efforts FIGO has played the role it’s supposed to fulfill to the best.” said Prof Serour.

“It is our professional responsibility, as physicians, to provide quality care across the life-cycle, and it is our responsibility, as leaders of global organizations, to join forces.”

Working together to do what works

PMNCH joined FIGO in hosting a panel on progress towards MDGs 4 and 5 on the very first morning of the congress. Speakers summarized findings of the Countdown to 2015 initiative, which is tracking, stimulating, and supporting country progress on maternal, newborn, and child survival, and then discussed the importance of working together to do a better job picking up the pace.

After years of research, a global consensus of 56 essential interventions, commodities and guidelines for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health were published last year by PMNCH in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the Aga Khan University.

Dr Fernando Althabe, PMNCH Board Member and Director of the Department of Mother & Child Health Research at the Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy in Argentina, explained why putting these recommendations to use is going to take urgent and collective action.

We know what will save women’s and children’s lives, but knowing is only the beginning of the reaction cycle: after identifying essential interventions they must be adapted to work in a local context before they can be used effectively.

“Researchers do not pay attention to that reaction cycle; that is being left to programmers, people who are pressed by the urgency of the problems at hand,” he said.

“We have to deliver the interventions. However we have to innovate the way we deliver. If we do not innovate the way we deliver and test them rigorously we definitely will be behind for several more years.”

Professor Marleen Temmerman, a member of the independent Expert Review Group on the UN Secretary-General’s Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children's Health, said she was heartened by the revival of support for contraception during the London Summit in July thanks to collective action led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development in the UK. She is hoping to see partners continue to come together in this way to bring all essential yet ignored interventions back on the global agenda.

“I hope that we’re heading into a decade of family planning, among others,” she said.


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