Results Canada is a national grassroots advocacy organization, and we're committed to creating the political will to end poverty and needless suffering. We champion cost-effective, proven, tangible, and impactful solutions that will benefit the world's poorest, and we believe, by extension, the world as a whole. I thank you for your invitation to be here today.
I know you're well versed in the statistics by this point, but I think they bear repeating. They speak to the immense need but also the immense opportunity that this G-8 initiative represents. As you've heard, at least 350,000 women die due to complications from pregnancy, labour, and delivery each year, and at least eight million mothers watch as their children die from mostly preventable causes before they reach their fifth birthday. In Canada, that would be the equivalent of 1,000 preschool classrooms full of kids being wiped out every single day. It's a tragedy, and it's unacceptable. The tragedy is compounded by the fact that we know what to do when it comes to saving lives. Many life-saving solutions are proven, simple, and inexpensive, and even if they cost a little bit more, they are well known to us.
To paint a picture, which I've actually shared before, I'm going to share this brief story. Last year Results Canada led a parliamentary delegation to Bangladesh. We were looking at the challenges associated with poverty, but we were also focused on hope and solutions. One day, we went to a hospital. It was called the ICDDR,B Hospital in Dhaka, and we were there in March. It was just before rainy season. At that point, waters are stagnant, and small children get sick primarily of diarrheal disease and other diseases as well. Every day, about 700 or 800 children with diarrheal disease stream into that hospital with their moms. There are moms and babies coming in for treatment. It's such a busy time of the year that they don't have enough wards or beds, so they construct these giant white tents outside the hospital, in the parking lots or in the ravine next door. I think there were two or three of them. When you walked into them, there was row upon row of kids getting oral rehydration therapies and intravenous therapies. While they're being treated for diarrheal disease, they're being looked at for other illnesses as well. Kids who are malnourished are getting therapeutic feeding and access to other treatments that are, again, very inexpensive, often costing dimes, not dollars, for treatment.
That scenario was very poignant for anyone, but especially for a mom like me. It is played out throughout the world. The good news is that most of the children who made it to that hospital will survive because they had access to health services. However, many more in the most impoverished pockets of the globe, unfortunately, will not. Diarrheal disease alone, as Aynsley was saying, kills about 1.5 million children every single year. Too many of the world's poorest children and their families have no access to basic health services, and it may take many hours or even days to walk to the nearest health centre or hospital. Their community may have only a handful of obstetricians or pediatricians, or they may simply be unable to afford what limited health care does exist.
For Canadians who see health care as core to our national identity and rights, this inequity is unacceptable. That's why Results Canada has joined with five of Canada's largest NGOs, including UNICEF, CARE, World Vision, Save the Children, and Plan Canada, to say that Canada's value-added contribution to the G-8 initiative can be to help bridge this health divide. We believe that part of the answer is to provide families with the health care they need in the communities where they live. The answer is a legion of front-line health workers prepared to tackle the leading causes of illness and disease in the developing world. Front-line health workers include doctors, nurses, and midwives, but they also include community health workers, promising young women who are supported and trained to provide life-saving medical interventions in their own community, be it in a rural area or urban slum.
Our joint call to action, which again is focused only on Canada's contribution to the G-8 initiative, has four core recommendations.
Number one, as I've said, Canada can commit to ramping up the number of front-line community health workers who are supported, trained, equipped, and motivated to deliver essential services to mothers and children at the community level. Community health workers are central to the continuum of care, the broad range of health services that connect homes and communities to health centres, clinics, and hospitals.
Number two is to provide these front-line health workers with the capacity to deliver an integrated package or a bundle of interventions to get at the leading causes of death among the poorest. Kids don't die of just one thing. They're susceptible to a whole gamut of illness and disease. Just four diseases--pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and measles--account for close to half of under-five deaths in the developing world. Underlying all of those is malnutrition. The majority of these lives, experts say, could be saved by increasing the use of low-cost, high-impact treatments and interventions, such as immunizations, bed nets, antibiotics to treat pneumonia, or, as we have seen, micronutrients.
I think what Aynsley didn't say was that two pills can save a life. Each pill is 2¢, and that's just 4¢ for vitamin A every year to save a life.
For pregnant women, front-line health workers have the capacity to monitor and support healthy pregnancies, and they need to be trained in safe birthing techniques and providing counselling on all-important contraception and birth spacing.
Third, we need to focus on the poorest families in their communities. Of those 8 million children, 80% get sick and die at home, far away from urban centres and hospitals. I think at least 50 million women give birth at home every year.
Fourth, we should commit to accountability and tracking results, in other words, ensure that we're getting it right and then that we have the capacity to improve practice as we go along, so we continue to get it right and get it better.
In sum, we need to have front-line health workers delivering an integrated bundle of interventions that have an impact on the poorest people where they live and measuring the results.
If I get an opportunity afterwards, I can tell you about a tangible story of how this is playing out in Ethiopia, where I was recently, where they have trained 30,000 young women to be health extension workers in 15,000 health posts across the country and who are creating transformative change in that country.
We estimate that Canada's fair share of the estimated $30 billion global financing gap to save 10 million women and children's lives by 2015 is $1.4 billion over five years. This must be new funding—not reassigned, not repackaged, not reallocated funding—to ensure tremendous and measurable impact in the lives saved.
In closing, we have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions at this G-8 summit, so I want to thank you for your role in ensuring that we make the most of this opportunity.