How we are helping
Da Nge with her daughter Lin Kheong Kem, Cambodia. Australia, through the aid program, invests in the health and wellbeing of women and children because good health is a fundamental human right. Photo: Cathy Reid/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Australian aid helps developing countries to provide life-saving health care to women and children throughout Asia, the Pacific and some countries in Africa (see map). Women, adolescent girls and children are supported throughout the cycle of pregnancy and birth, infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Australian investments focus on proven interventions that deliver strong results and value for money including:
- expanding access to family planning and vaccination services
- increasing access to health services for women and children
- increasing the number of skilled health workers (including midwives)
- treatment and prevention of common childhood illnesses.
It takes a strong health system to consistently deliver quality health services, save lives and keep women and children well. Australia aims to help ensure that health services are adequately financed, have drugs and staff available, are delivered in appropriate clinics and hospitals—and are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Publication: Saving lives – Australia’s aid to women and children
How we give aid
Australia works with partner governments, research institutes and development partners to deliver on our maternal and child health commitments. Australia provides support for:
- global programs and organisations that deliver essential health services and promote women’s and children’s health (such as the GAVI Alliance, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation)
- bilateral and regional programs to strengthen the health systems of priority countries, particularly in Asia and the Pacific—a region which bears around 40 per cent of the global burden of maternal and child mortality
- targeted programs on nutrition, family planning, immunisation and health education delivered by civil society organisations
- innovative research into maternal and child health - to provide evidence on which to base our investment decisions, and help governments and policy makers understand what works and why.
Why we give aid
While there has been a 47 per cent reduction in maternal deaths since 1990, around
287,000 women and girls die each year from largely preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. An estimated six million children also die annually, including three million newborn babies.
Australia, through the aid program, invests in the health and wellbeing of women and children because good health is a fundamental human right. In addition, investing in women’s and children’s health saves lives, saves money, increases productivity, and promotes social stability.
Poor health traps women and their families in a cycle of poverty. Health care costs can be extremely high—many families fall into poverty as a result of poor health. This, in turn can leave women and children vulnerable to death and disease.
Australia is committed to assisting countries, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Australia recognises that investing in health care for women and children supports achievement of all the MDGs, not just those related to health.
Australia—an international leader on maternal and child health
Australia is part of a leading group of institutions and donors working on maternal and child health. Australia works closely with USAID [external website], the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID [external website]) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [external website] through the Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal and Newborn Health [external website] (the Alliance). The Alliance supports joint advocacy, learning and coordination on maternal and child health at country and global levels. It has published reports on its progress for 2011 and 2012. Australia also provides support for, and sits on the board of, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health [external website] (PMNCH)—a network of over 500 members working together to ensure that all women, infants and children are healthy and thrive.