The World Health Organisation, WHO, has conferred a gold medal on Graca Machel, who stepped down as chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) in Geneva on Sunday.
Machel is wife of late South African leader Nelson Mandela, and has chaired PMNCH for the last 12 years, insisting its mandate should remain strong.
“Our mandate is not about reducing but about ending preventable deaths of mothers, newborns, children and adolescents,” said Machel.
“The end goals of our work makes you feel, ‘do I deserve it while all these people are dying daily?’”
“It is 12 years only. If we don’t change the way we are doing things, we can't afford—come 2030—to tell mothers in this era when knowledge and resources are available, we cannot look into their eyes and tell them we have failed. We cannot do that. We are not allowed to do that.”
Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet takes over as chair of the partnership.
The partnership is a coalition of governments, nongovernment organisations, civil society, United Nations and donor agencies with a streamlined mandate to ensure survival of women, newborns and children across the world.
In the last 10 years, PMNCH has taken on 10 different constituencies, 250-plus partners and thousands of colleagues.
WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus handed over the award as Machel handed over to Bachelet at a brief ceremony in Geneva, where the PMNCH’s secretariat is hosted at the World Health Organisation.
Machel noted she was “extremely happy to hand over to someone much more capable, and this is only going to benefit mothers, newborn, children and adolescents of our time.”
“I’m proud to have contributed to make PMNCH a common home. It represents an example how you can bring together UN agencies, donors, pharmaceutical companies, youths, nongovernment organisations and governments,” said Machel.
“We have agreed to work together. Sometimes we feel like the silos haven't completely broken and we need to integrate our working together.”
Bachelet, a physician, paediatrician and former president of Chile, returns to working in women, children and adolescent health.
“I am always asking myself, ‘what more we can do. [The Millennium Development Goals] were fantastic. In some places, it has stagnated,” said Bachelet.
“We share certainty that women, children and girls are the centre of [Sustainable Development Goals. Sometimes there’s too much dispersion of resources,” she warned.
By: Judd-Leonard Okafor, Geneva
Daily Trust News
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