On December 7, 2019 United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Dr. Natalia Kanem visited the Republican Research and Practical Centre “Mother and Child”.

There a meeting took place with Vladimir Karanik, Minister of Healthcare of the Republic of Belarus, Centre Director Sergei Vasiliev, centre administration and physicians. 

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The Minister of Healthcare noted with appreciation the high level of cooperation with the World Health Organization and other UN agencies in Belarus and stressed that such a level of international cooperation helps Belarus demonstrate solid achievements in terms of maternal and infant mortality rate. In Belarus they try to save every life. As a result, during past 15 years the number of abortions decreased fourfold and for the past 10 years, child mortality dropped almost threefold.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General said that UN agencies, namely, UNFPA, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO) are proud to see the achievements of the Republic of Belarus. UNFPA shares the values supported by Belarus stating that every human life is priceless.

"UNFPA's commitment is to ensure zero maternal mortality, zero child mortality, and zero mortality during childbirth, which will lead to healthy children arrival. We are going to use the achievements of Belarus in reducing maternal and child mortality as a very good example of efforts for other countries.  To me it will be very important to learn about the methodology, which ensures such a comprehensive approach to care during pregnancy and childbirth,” said Dr Kanem.

She also emphasized that cracking down on non-communicable diseases and the issues of ageing with dignity that are in the focus of attention of the Belarusian Ministry of Healthcare are on the UNFPA’s agenda too. It is also important that both UNFPA and Belarus remain committed to the principle of leaving no one behind and unassisted. This applies particularly to people with disabilities.

Providing an example of partnership with the Flo Health, the developer of the women’s productive health mobile platform, Ms. Kanem stressed that Belarusian model of cooperation between private sector, state bodies, nongovernmental organizations, UN, and the society at large is very promising and will be further used by the UN system.

In turn, the Minister of Healthcare of Belarus reminded that the activities aimed at elimination of non-communicable diseases and care for people with disabilities are very active with early childhood intervention centres and adolescent-friendly centres opening and creation of the Council for People with Disabilities headed by the deputy chairperson of the Council of Ministers. The Council consists of the ministers of healthcare, education, labour and social protection, and non-governmental organizations for people with disabilities. It helps discuss and solve the problems of all stakeholders.

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UNFPA Executive Director also visited the obstetric and gynaecological departments including pathologic pregnancy unit and maternity unit, and talked to the patients of Mother and Child centre.

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In conclusion of the visit a ceremony was conducted to hand over a special gynaecological examination chair for women with disabilities to the Brest Regional maternity hospital. The chair was purchased as part of the crowdfunding initiative “Byazmezhnaya” of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Delivering his speech to the ceremony participants the Minister of Healthcare Vladimir Karanik expressed his gratitude to businessmen and individuals who took part in the project, which resulted in purchase of the unique medical equipment.

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“We try to prove by deed, not by word, that to us every life matters. It is important that people under rough conditions who have physical limitations due to traumas do not find themselves struck off from active life. This should not deprive them of the joys of motherhood or restrict access to comfortable and quality medical aid. Such chairs adapted to women’s individual needs allow to minimize inconveniences associated with medical examination or childbirth,” said Vladimir Karanik.

In her message to the audience, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem stated that women with disabilities have paved the way for improvement of technology and confirmation of the values, such as safe motherhood and dignity for all, that unite people.

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“For UNFPA, purchase of such a chair is a symbolic and powerful element of our understanding of the principle of leaving no one behind. This is the essence of Sustainable Development Goals,” said Dr. Kanem.

She also noted that the progress of the initiative co-implemented by UNFPA, the Ministry of Healthcare, Dobra social fund, and Flo Health company prove how much can be done if act together. Partnership is a key element of actions aimed at achievement of progress in reducing maternal and child mortality, child health improvement, and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals so that reproductive and sexual health services be accessible for all.

For reference

Belarus is one of the countries with the lowest maternal, infant and child mortality in the region.

The maternal mortality ratio in Belarus decreased from 7 in 2007 to 2 in 2017.  For comparison, in 2017, the maternal mortality ratio of Belarus' neighbors: in Lithuania - 8, Poland –2, in the Russian Federation –17, in Ukraine –19.

The infant mortality ratio (per 1,000 live births) in Belarus decreased from 5 in 2008 to 2, 6 in 2018.  For comparison, in 2018, the infant mortality ratio was among the neighbors of Belarus: in Lithuania - 3.2, Poland –3.8, in the Russian Federation –6.1, in Ukraine –7.5

The child mortality ratio under 5 years of age (per 1,000 live births) in Belarus decreased from 6.6 in 2008 to 3.4 in 2018.  For comparison, in 2018, the child mortality ratio for children under 5 years old was among the neighbours of Belarus: in Lithuania - 4 Poland –4.4 in the Russian Federation –7.2, in Ukraine - 8.7.

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