Muskoka Initiative Toronto Conference

Toronto photo
Toronto, Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week hosted a high-profile conference in Toronto to mark the fourth anniversary of the Muskoka Initiative (Child Maternal Health Initiative). It is a global effort to reduce maternal mortality and improve the health of mothers and children in the world’s poorest countries. The Toronto conference theme is “Saving every women, every child.”

UNICEF states that about 29,000 children under the age of five  die every day, mainly from preventable causes. More than 70 per cent of almost 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth.

Simple interventions are a hugely effective tool. One is vaccinations for children under five.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper said vaccinations are “proven to work,” and that they have been “lifesavers” in our society and elsewhere,  in an interview with CBC News. Harper offered advice to those who have their own theories and do not listen to scientific evidence. “Don’t indulge your theories, think of your children and listen to the experts,” he said.

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The Muskoka Initiative does not fund abortions. Prime Minister stated, that issue is “controversial”, “illegal in many recipient nations”, and  “frankly, there’s more than enough things that we can finance, including contraception, without getting into an issue that really would be extremely divisive for Canadians and donors.”

Melinda Gates addressed why women had to be put in a situation where they consider abortion in the first place.

“One of the things we don’t invest in enough, as a world, are contraceptives. We put women in that situation because they don’t have access and when you talk to them in the developing world, they say, ‘I want that tool, I want that shot I used to get,'” she said.

“We can work upstream on these issues to help women where they are, so you don’t ever put them in that situation, and to me, that’s the smart investment to make.”

Online: CBC News  Harper won’t fund abortion globally because it’s ‘extremely divisive’.
CBC News:  Vaccinations are ‘proven to work’: Melinda Gates, Stephen Harper

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