Statement

Opening Remarks by Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, UNFPA China Representative at the 10th Annual Conference on China Maternal and Child Health Development

28 November 2019

Chongqing, China

Distinguished Mr. Xiong Xue, Vice Mayor of Chongqing Municipality Government,
Distinguished Mr. Zhang Wenkang, Honorary President of CMCHA,
Distinguished Mr. Chen Ziquan, President of CMCHA,
Distinguished Ms. Yu Yanhong, Vice Minister of National Health Commission,
Dear friends, colleagues, ladies and gentleman:

On behalf of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), it is my pleasure to deliver remarks on the occasion of the 10th Annual Conference on China Maternal and Child Health Development. I would like to thank the China Maternal and Child Health Association (CMCHA) and Chongqing Municipal Government for organizing this important event which has become a brand platform for the exchange of knowledge and experience in maternal and child health in China.  

Making motherhood safe is a top priority for UNFPA. Ending preventable maternal deaths is one of the three transformative results launched by UNFPA in 2018 in achieving the SDGs. Globally, UNFPA works at all levels to promote universal access to sexual and reproductive health care and rights, including by promoting international maternal health standards and providing guidance and support to health systems. In China, since 2011, UNFPA has been working with the CMCHA and other partners to promote natural delivery and midwifery profession development in China.  In the current cycle of cooperation between the Government of China and UNFPA (2016-2020), UNFPA is continuously supporting efforts in developing an enabling policy environment, quality education and training for new and current midwives, and promoting high standards for midwifery service delivery.

This year, 2019, is the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, Egypt where 179 countries adopted a landmark Programme of Action that called for advancing gender equality and securing sexual and reproductive health for all. Just two weeks ago, more than 9,500 representatives from over 170 countries met at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25. The Summit opened with a look back at all that had been achieved since the ICPD and presented more than 1,200 concrete commitments to help ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights for all by 2030. The Nairobi Statement calls for achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as part of universal health coverage by committing to strive for zero preventable maternal deaths and maternal morbidities, zero unmet needs for family planning information and services, and access to comprehensive and age-responsive information, education and youth-friendly quality services for all young people.

Much progress has been made since the 1994 ICPD, including significant improvements in maternal health and expanded access to voluntary family planning. China is one of the few countries that achieved the MDG 5 target on reduction of maternal deaths by 2015.  But many of its aims have yet to be met.  Globally, the target of reducing maternal mortality by 75 per cent has not been achieved, for instance.  For China, the challenge of notable disparities in MMR between urban and rural areas and between the east and the west continues to demand serious attention.  

The Chinese government delegation attended the Nairobi Summit and made the commitment to realize ICPD unfinished agenda and SDGs. China will continue to implement the Healthy China Strategy, promote the Belt and Road Initiative, strengthen South-South cooperation and deepen the cooperation with international organizations.  

As a broker of international technical expertise on reproductive health, including maternal health, and a facilitator of international cooperation and knowledge exchange, UNFPA is committed to supporting China’s fulfillment of its commitment to realize the unfinished agenda of the ICPD and advance sustainable development, including reproductive and maternal health.  Facilitation of China’s efforts in South-South and Triangular cooperation has also become increasingly an important priority for UNFPA. UNFPA China has engaged in several initiatives including facilitating applications for support of sexual and reproductive health projects under China’s South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund. We look forward to continuously working with Chinese institutions on sexual and reproductive health-focused South-South and Triangular initiatives in future.

The Healthy China Action Plan (2019-2030) was issued by the Chinese government this year as a new guideline to implement the country's Healthy China blueprint and promote people's health with focus on disease prevention and health promotion. Improving maternal and child health is one of the key actions. UNFPA, together with other UN agencies and international organizations, have enjoyed a fruitful cooperation with all of you along this journey of promoting women’s, adolescents’ and children’s health and look forward to continued close partnership to work together for the attainment of the goals of Healthy China Action Plan and the SDGs.

I wish you a successful conference.  Thank you very much.  Xiexie!