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UN chief called for greater access to medicines for women, children

UNITED NATIONS, May 22 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday praised the work of a United Nations commission on improving access to life-saving medicines for women and children, while stressing that much remains to be done.

"Last week, the UN issued an important report indicating that, over the past 20 years, the number of women who die from complications during pregnancy has decreased by nearly half," Ban said in remarks at the opening of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. "This is cause for celebration -- it is a tribute to the hard work of so many people and partners."

The report, "Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010," reflects that the annual number of women dying from birth related complications dropped from more than 543,000 to 287,000, a 47 percent decline.

However, the UN chief pointed out that every day, 800 women, and more than 20,000 children die from preventable causes; every two minutes, a woman dies at what should have been a joyful moment.

"And millions of women are unable to choose if, when and how many children they would like to have because they lack access to modern contraception - this tells me we are still not doing enough, " he added.

The UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, launched in March by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), aims to improve access to essential but overlooked health supplies that could save the lives of millions of women and children every year.

The secretary-general said the Commission has focused on 13 medicines and health supplies and noted that its recommendations on how to remove barriers to greater access to those commodities will be instrumental in improving affordability and making the items more readily available.

"As your work clearly shows, we do not need to wait for scientific breakthroughs," said Ban. "We already have commodities, knowledge, interventions and policies that can prevent needless deaths."


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