The 129th Inter -Parliamentarian Union Assembly
7-9 OCTOBER | GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), meeting in Geneva this week, has launched a handbook for parliamentarians to encourage targeted action on reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. The guide – a first-ever tool of its kind for political leaders – identifies key actions that can be taken in regard to developing legislation, ensuring oversight of laws and policies, budget allocation and accountability for expenditure, and representing the health concerns of women and children.
The guide was introduced at a plenary meeting of more than 120 national parliaments by IPU Secretary General Anders Johnsson. “MNCH is recognized as one of the most critical issues facing human development,” said Mr Johnsson. “Parliaments have a unique role in contributing to efforts to reduce maternal and child deaths. The ambition of this guide is to provide every parliamentarian with the information they need to act.”
The Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, MP, and speaker of the parliament of Uganda, recommended the use of the guide as a timely and practical means of implementing the resolution on MNCH ratified by the IPU in 2012 during its spring assembly. Uganda, along with Canada and India, acted as co-rapporteurs of the report that led to that resolution. “The launch of the IPU handbook is, for me personally, a very proud moment,” said Mrs. Kadaga. “Uganda has made reasonable progress on maternal and child health. But for us, even one women dying in childbirth is one too many.”
“Uganda, like many countries, is committed to improving our status. We have increased our budgets for health and improved salaries of health workers. Our parliament now has a strategy for improving accountability and we are now planning to lead a national dialogue on birth and death registration. I commend this handbook to all parliamentarians that want to increase such action in their own countries.”
The session, chaired by the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Mr. Abdelwahad Radi of Morocco, also reported on the July 2013 seminar on accountability for women’s and children’s health hosted by the Parliament of Bangladesh together with the IPU and the WHO.
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health provided both financial and technical support for both the handbook and the seminar through its participation in the IPU’s MNCH program and technical reference group.
The IPU is the international organization of Parliaments. It was established in 1889.
The Union is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.
To that end, it:
- Fosters contacts, co-ordination, and the exchange of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries;
- Considers questions of international interest and concern and expresses its views on such issues in order to bring about action by parliaments and parliamentarians;
- Contributes to the defence and promotion of human rights - an essential factor of parliamentary democracy and development;
- Contributes to better knowledge of the working of representative institutions and to the strengthening and development of their means of action.
The IPU supports the efforts of and works in close co-operation with the United Nations, whose objectives it shares. The Union also co-operates with regional inter-parliamentary organizations, as well as with international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations which are motivated by the same ideals.