'IF WE DO THESE THINGS WE WILL SAVE LIVES'
(Ottawa Citizen) - By Mark Kennedy
$40-billion maternal health plan hinges on accountability, Harper says
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday that an international plan to spend $40 billion to improve the health of women and children in poor nations will hinge on accountability for how the money is spent.
Harper delivered the message at a high-level meeting of world leaders and experts who gathered at the United Nations to discuss the issue.
The prime minister also revealed more details about Canada's plan to spend $1.1 billion in new funds on the cause. Twenty-eight new projects were announced to help promote better health for mothers, infants and children in Haiti, Africa and Asia. That brought to 51 the total number of projects so far.
The projects are part of the Muskoka Initiative, which Harper championed at the G8 summit he hosted last year in Canada. Other G8 nations promised funds at that summit and, by September 2010, the initiative had grown into a $40-billion plan led by the United Nations.
Speaking to the audience at the UN Tuesday, Harper acknowledged that questions are being asked about how countries will be able to afford their commitments at a time of growing austerity.
"The key is accountability," said Harper. "I can tell you many countries were fairly conservative in making the pledges."
"Accountability depends on vigilance and dedication. If we do those things, we know we will save lives.