TORONTO—Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced new maternal and child health projects in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Mozambique.
In Ethiopia, Canada will work to support the nutrition and health of 3 million pregnant and nursing women and their children.
Efforts in Mozambique will aim to strengthen the national health system to deliver health services to women and children, including HIV treatments and measles immunization.
In Bangladesh, Canada will fund improvements to maternal and neonatal health services by purchasing drugs and equipment, and recruiting and training health care professionals.
The projects are part of the five-year, $2.85 billion commitment Canada made at the 2010 G-8 Summit under the Muskoka Initiative. The PM made the announcement on the heels of the first meeting of the United Nations Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health.
“Today, members of the commission emerged from our first meeting united in our determination to ensure that global funding for maternal and children’s health in developing countries is spent where needed most and properly accounted for,” Harper said.
NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar said on Parliament Hill Wednesday that the announcement is simply an effort by the government to rehabilitate its international image.
Dewar said the government’s pledge to do more comes as it is freezing the international aid budget.
Money going overseas would be better used by Canadian NGOs based overseas, added John Rafferty, NDP critic for International Cooperation and CIDA.
“You can’t keep giving Canadian taxpayers’ money over to a government so they can use it as they see fit,” said Rafferty.
Harper said the projects will help save the lives of mothers, children, and newborns in developing countries.
“The support being announced today will help Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Mozambique address the urgent and long-term health needs of these vulnerable groups,” he said.