Despite decades of improved health care in developing nations, the United Nations continues to feel that reducing the global rate of maternal death should be an international priority.
Speaking at the Mary Cross Hall last Wednesday, Kiyotaka Akasaka, the UN’s under-secretary-general for Communications and Public Information, stressed that maternal mortality - the death of a woman during or after pregnancy – was a key component of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
At the UN’s Millennium Summit in September 2000, member states and heads of governments agreed to a historical text - the Millennium Declaration: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empowerment of women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.
Akasaka said that the level of maternal mortality remained too high; 370,000 women die every year because of the complications of pregnancy – that translates to more than 1,000 women dying every day.
But access to information, education and the Internet also figure prominently as MDGs.
Akasaka discussed the spread of Internet in Egypt and anticipates a remarkable increase over the coming years.
“Nowadays, 13 million Egyptian citizens have Internet access; however in 10 years time there will be 50 million Egyptians having Internet access,” he said.
According to Laila El Baradei, the associate dean and professor of Public Administration, the MDGs goals are controversial since they address mainly social challenges, and do not focus on political problems.
After the lecture ended, Dean Nabil Fahmy presented an honorary gift to Akasaka.
Akasaka was Japan’s ambassador to the UN in 2000 and 2001. He has co-authored many books, including The GATT, The Uruguay Round Negotiations, and The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
He also wrote several articles on trade, tackling issues such as the environment and sustainable development.