Report on the Hearing in front of the III Commission for Foreign and Communitarian Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies, Italian Parliament

On July 1, 2010 Dr. Flavia Bustreo Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Dr. Mario Merialdi, Coordinator in the WHO Department of Reproductive Health and Research and Dr. Francesco Aureli, the Save the Children spokesman for Italy, were asked to address the Commission of the Italian Parliament in charge of foreign affairs with regard to the Millennium Development Goals.

The consultation aimed to understand what the international community has done in view of the deadline of 2015, with particular reference as to how Italy has contributed so far and what might be its future role. Specifically, MNCH experts were required to report on Objective 4 - to reduce child mortality by two thirds from 1990 to 2015, and Objective 5 - to reduce maternal mortality by three quarters from 1990 to 2015 and to allow universal access to reproductive health. The session was opened and chaired by the Hon. Enrico Pianetta, Chairman of the Committee for MDGs established by the Commission for Foreign and Communitarian Affairs. This is a collective responsibility, and Italy has to play its role.

As explained by Dr. Merialdi Italy has played a crucial role in the 2009 G8 Summit in L'Aquila, raising attention towards maternal newborn and child health. Thanks to the 2009 G8 initiative, MNCH became a priority which laid the foundation for the 2010 G8 Muskoka Initiative and its new financial commitment by almost all the richest countries in the world

Italy has also continued to demonstrate its attention towards maternal and newborn health as underscored by the commitment of a group of women parliamentarians who have been actively collaborating with PMNCH / RHR since 2009. This collaboration has contributed to raise the awareness on MNCH at national level. In addition, it led to concrete actions: the approval of the parliamentary motion on international aid and the motion to limit the excessive use of caesarean section in Italy.

Dr Francesco Aureli of Save the Children focused the attention on the value of Health as a Human Right. A mother's health is linked to the survival of her child and he underlined how straightforward interventions and already existing therapies can save millions of lives of women and babies.

The objectives are shared, but the response can be multifaceted, according to the contribution capability of each stakeholder.

In the current financial crisis, Italy like many other European countries, does not have the resources to fully support Development issues. Therefore, mechanisms of innovative financing are critical to maintain and expand funding for MNCH. In this regard, RHR/PMNCH proposed to the Italian Parliament during the hearing and to the Plenipotentiary Minister Elisabetta Belloni, Director of the Development Cooperation Directorate, the innovative financing mechanism of Women Create Life.

WCL is a combined mechanism of financing and advocacy which uses the Italian Art in order to raise new resources, improve economic development and to change the stereotypical representation of underprivileged women as passive victims of circumstances with an image that shows them instead as willing and capable partners in the advancement of women’s health.

WCL is a new bottom-up marked oriented strategy which will use the social network platforms to spread its message and to reach a wider audience.

The proposal was very well received by parliamentarian and ministerial representatives. It was decided to create a Steering Committee to shape the project in all its aspects. The objective is to launch the new project at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 2011.

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