FIGO CONGRESS NEWS: FIGO joining forces to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals

FIGO strengthens collaboration with UN organisations, World Federations, Non-Governmental and Faith-Based Organisations, and the Private Sector

Rome, October 8th, 2012 – “FIGO, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, has a vision that women of the world achieve the highest possible standard of physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing throughout their lives. Our mission is dedicated to the improvement of women’s health and rights and to the reduction of disparities in health care available to women and newborns, as well as to advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynecology.” These words by Professor Gamal Serour, President of FIGO, inaugurated the opening press conference of the FIGO2012 World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Rome, Italy, today.

The FIGO2012 Congress - held in Europe only once every 15 years, and a first for Italy – gathers over 8,000 participants from across the world: healthcare professionals, leaders from partnership and UN organisations, policy and decision makers, patient groups, and representatives of international media.

“We expect the congress to be a rewarding scientific exchange in many aspects of women’s health, from basic to cutting-edge science. We are sure it will also be an occasion to continue and enhance the open dialogue between FIGO and various concerned professional organisations, United Nations organisations and global NGOs on how we can all contribute to accelerating the progress on achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals,” Prof Serour said.

In fact, the vision and mission of FIGO reflect the vital role health professional organisations have in the promotion of women’s health and in the joint efforts to achieve specifically - but not only, as most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have an impact on women's health - MDG-4 “Reduce child mortality” and MDG-5 “Improve maternal health”.

“Professional organisations can do a tremendous amount in this respect, from influencing policy decision-making to raising awareness of issues and their solutions, to setting standards, to educating and training healthcare professionals and providers,” he added.

Child deaths are falling, but much more needs to be done in order to reach the development goal: to reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under five years old mortality rate, from 93 children of every 1,000 dying to 31 of every 1,000.

Since 1990, in the developing regions, the mortality rate of under five years old has declined by 35 percent, from 97 deaths per 1,000 births to 63. But, children in the developing regions as a whole, are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as children in the richest 20 percent of households.

Maternal mortality has nearly halved since 1990: an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010 worldwide, a decline of 47 percent from 1990. However, levels are far removed from the 2015 target. The targets for improving maternal health include reducing by three-fourths the maternal mortality ratio and achieving universal access to reproductive health.

The regions with the highest maternal mortality, sub Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, are also those with the lowest coverage of births attended by skilled health personnel - less than half. Maternal health coverage has progressively increased in developing regions from 63 percent in 1990 to 71 percent in 2000, and then to 80 percent in 2010.

Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates, and inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health.

“The three year period 2009-2012 witnessed an unprecedented strengthening of FIGO’s partnerships with governmental, non-governmental, and faith-based organisations, and the private sector, and through collaborative efforts FIGO has played the role it is supposed to fulfil to the best. The health-related MDGs 4 and 5, and the others impacting women - ‘1-eradication of poverty’, ‘2- achieve education’, ‘3-gender equality’, and ‘6-combatting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria’ - cannot be achieved without a greater effort. It is our professional responsibility, as physicians, to provide quality care across the life-cycle, and it is our responsibility, as leaders of global organisations, to join forces. Rest assured that women will no longer be the silent victims and unheard voices of substandard health care,” Prof Serour concluded.

“FIGO is our natural partner for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. We are together pushing hard to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 5 on improving maternal health and ensuring universal access to reproductive health. We appreciate the dedication of thousands of obstetricians and gynecologists that are on the ground, sometimes under difficult circumstances, ensuring that women survive pregnancy and childbirth and their human rights are protected,” said Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund.

"The professional associations of gynecologists and obstetricians have a critical role to play in the 24 hours around delivery, when we see most of the deaths of mothers and newborns. Particularly if there are complications, not only do they provide the clinical care directly, but also they provide knowledge and supervision to other health workers. In addition, they contribute to development of treatment guidelines and policy based on scientific evidence. In the quest for achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, FIGO is a vital partner for us at WHO,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General, Family, Women's and Children's Health, World Health Organization.

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, an innovative partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, is a long-term partner of FIGO. “UNAIDS sees professional organisations, FIGO in particular, as crucial partners in responding to the AIDS epidemic. FIGO has the credibility to ensure that basic human rights are an integral part of health services and in securing the future of women and children’s health,” said Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Thanks to their professionalism and integrity, professional associations can act as a voice for the voiceless,” he added.

“FIGO and ICM, the International Confederation of Midwives, have a long history of collaborating on improvements of maternal and newborn health. Together we play a crucial role in advocating for and providing care to the world’s child bearing women. We are committed to enhance and expand our collaboration in the future towards achieving MDGs and beyond,” said Frances Day-Stirk, President of the International Confederation of Midwives.

Per informazioni, contattare: / For further information, please contact:

Diego Freri
FIGO2012 Press Office
tel. +39 02 87399173 - 174
fax +39 02 87399610
mobile +39 335 8378332

Maria D'Acquino
HealthCom Consulting Srl
Tel. +39 02 87399173 - 174
Mob. + 39 346 6435 192
Fax +39 02 87399610

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