Canada's Role in Global Efforts to Improve Health
- United Nations Millennium Development Goals
- Canada's Foreign Policy
- Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
United Nations Millennium Goals
It is now well known that poverty and ill health go hand in hand. The United National Population Fund (UNFPA) report entitled State of World Population 2002: People, Poverty and Possibilities states that poor health is both a cause and an effect of poverty. Ill health "diminishes personal capacity, lowers productivity and reduces earnings. ...the effect of ill health on productivity and earnings is likely to be greater on the poor." Conversely, a greater life expectancy -- a key indicator of health status -- leads to improved economic growth.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted in 2000 by all 191 UN Member States as the core agenda for international development cooperation. By the year 2015, these nations – including Canada – have pledged to address and meet the following eight MDGs:
- eradicate extreme poverty and hunger,
- achieve universal primary education,
- promote gender equality and empower women,
- reduce child mortality,
- improve maternal health,
- combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases,
- ensure environmental stability, and
- establish a global partnership for development.
Meeting at Unicef Islamabad, Pakistan:
STOP consultants Di Brookes, Kate Darling, and
Norma Chambers with Dr. Imran Ravji,
Project Officer for Child Health at UNICEF Islamabad.
Photo: Kate Darling
Immunization is a key element in the strategy to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. It is a secondary priority in promoting gender equality, establishing a global partnership for development and can serve as a model for combating HIV/AID, malaria and other diseases.
For their part, WHO and UNICEF have set specific, incremental targets that will greatly assist in the achievement of these goals. Their joint immunization-related objectives are to:
- ensure 80% immunization coverage in every district for each of the six basic EPI antigens (Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Tuberculosis) in 80% of all countries by 2010,
- reduce measles morbidity and mortality by half by 2005,
- eradicate polio,
- eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, and
- eliminate vitamin A deficiency by 2010.
Canada's Foreign PolicyCanada is seen as a world leader in the global quest for equitable and sustainable development for the poorest and most vulnerable populations. Canada is a signatory to the World Summit for Children, the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The foreign policy statement, Canada in the World: Canadian Foreign Policy Review 1995, commits Canada to addressing the poverty/ill health cycle by providing official development assistance (ODA) for basic human needs, democratic involvement of civil society and good governance, and the expression of Canadian values of equity, justice and volunteer action. The Government of Canada continues to participate in international efforts to immunize all children, and in particular to eradicate polio, measles, neonatal tetanus and prevent vitamin A deficiency.
The report, Canada Implements the G8 Africa Action Plan: Delivering on Commitments, One Year Later, released in May 2003 outlines the progress that Canada has made since the June 2002 G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta, in areas identified by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). The NEPAD is a comprehensive and integrated plan developed by African leaders to address key areas, such as health, governance, peace and security, education, agriculture, water, trade and investment. Immunization efforts continue to focus on the African continent, particularly for sub-Saharan countries.
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) developed a Policy Statement entitled Canada Making a Difference in the World: A Policy Statement on Strengthening Aid Effectiveness (SAE) to address how Canadian assistance is delivered. CIDA aligned its overarching development targets with both the UN's MDGs and the key principles for sustainable development as outlined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD's principles are:
- local ownership,
- improved donor coordination,
- stronger partnerships,
- a results-based approach, and
- greater policy coherence.
As well, CIDA has prioritized three additional factors as critical to successful development cooperation:
- good governance,
- building capacity, and
- engaging civil society.
With this framework, the SAE explores better approaches to delivering programs and policies to achieve the social development goals targeted by CIDA's Sustainable Development Strategy.
Linked to the SAE policy initiative within the health sector specifically, CIDA's Action Plan on Health and Nutrition (APHN) focuses on the means to ensure that the right to health is achieved for all, particularly among the poorest and most marginalized populations in developing countries. The APHN identifies several areas for action, and positions health system strengthening as a fundamental goal. The areas of activity include:
- improving food security and nutrition,
- improving access to clean water and sanitation,
- preventing and controlling communicable diseases,
- improving sexual and reproductive health including safe motherhood, and
- preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases.
In the area of preventing and controlling communicable diseases, Canada has made considerable investments through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria , the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), and the campaign to eradicate polio.With respect to Canada's contribution to global immunization efforts, CIDA supported the first five years of the Canadian International Immunization Initiative (1998-2003) in partnership with CPHA, UNICEF, WHO and Rotary International. This program worked towards the eradication of polio and the elimination of measles, and provided general support to immunization programs in developing countries and in Eastern and Central Europe. The initiative aimed to strengthen immunization capacity and disease surveillance systems, and also endeavoured to encourage the commitment of Canadians to global immunization efforts.
The initiative was renewed for a second phase, which comprises the Government of Canada, UNICEF, WHO, PAHO, CPHA. CIII-2 continues the efforts to immunize the world's children against polio, tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, with a focus on strengthening routine immunization programs and ensuring immunization and vaccine safety. The second phase of the Canadian Immunization Initiative is a part of CIDA's $143.6 million investment in immunization and vitamin A programs, which was announced on May 1st, 2003.
In February 2005, the Canadian government announced a donation of $160 million (CDN) to scale up the work of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). The donation represents the largest one-year commitment ever made by a government to the Alliance. During the past five years, GAVI-supported programs in 70 countries have helped prevent more than 670,000 premature deaths by improving access to basic children's vaccines, accelerate the development and introduction of new vaccines, and build the capacity of developing countries to improve immunization coverage.