Remarks by Jonathan Fanton at the UN Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals
September 25, 2008 | Speech | Population & Reproductive Health

Presented at the Special Event, “Commitment to Progress for Mothers, Newborns and Children”

Thank you for this opportunity to speak as a representative of U.S. private foundations working toward the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5. I am Jonathan Fanton, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. MacArthur is a private, non-governmental grant-making institution based in Chicago that works in 60 countries on conservation, human rights, peace and security, and population and reproductive health.

The MacArthur Foundation has a long-standing interest in reducing maternal mortality, with a focus on India, Nigeria, and Mexico. India and Nigeria between them account for about one-third of women who die giving life.

Postpartum hemorrhage is the most common cause of maternal mortality, about a third of maternal deaths. We can and must reduce that number dramatically in the years ahead. We know how to do this, but we require resources and political will.

Here is a promising example of how we support the fifth Millennium Development Goal. An AntiShock Garment has the potential to reduce hemorrhage deaths by up to 60%. The AntiShock Garment is made of neoprene, which has three-way elasticity, and is fitted with robust Velcro fasteners. Applied tightly to the lower body, it exerts a counter-pressure that shunts blood from the lower extremities and pelvis to the vital organs. As it controls bleeding and reverses shock, the AntiShock Garment buys time for a woman in hemorrhage, and allows her to be transported to a clinic or hospital. MacArthur has a pilot project underway in India and Nigeria, and hopes governments will take this proven intervention to scale.

I am pleased to report that other foundations in the United States are also committed to MDG#5, both target 1 — reducing maternal mortality — and target 2 — universal access to reproductive health. Together, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and MacArthur are making grants related to MDG #5 of nearly $100 million in 2008. And we will do more in the future.

U.S. private philanthropy is a valuable partner to governments and United Nations agencies, piloting new approaches, acting rapidly with flexible funds, and catalyzing alliances to tackle global health problems. The goals set in 2000 must be achieved. With dedication, persistence, and partnership among governments, civil society and foundations, we can look back on this event as a turning point that will restore hope to women, better the lives of families, and move us forward to a more just, humane, and healthy world.

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