I warmly welcome you to the symposium and party to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Working Party on International Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health.
In 1987 the Dutch Consultancy for Maternal and Child Health, including Family Planning, was founded. The absolute number of maternal deaths was still above 500,000; more than 90% in LMICs. We did not yet know about the Millennium Project, let alone the Sustainable Development Goals.
The former Consultancy is now called the Working Party on International Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health and is a committee under the board of both, the Netherlands Society for Tropical Medicine and International Health (NVTG), and the Dutch Society for Obstetrics and Gynaecology (NVOG). The activities that are undertaken under the umbrella of the Working Party can be grouped into four pillars: education, patient care, research and advocacy.
In the past 3 decades investments in accelerating programmes to meet the needs of the world’s poorest have been extremely successful. Almost all targets of the Millennium Project, ranging from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, have been reached. Whilst significant reductions of maternal and neonatal mortality were also measured, the fourth and the fifth millennium development goal have not been reached and safe motherhood is still unattainable for many women.
In order to further improve maternal and neonatal health timely access to quality (maternal and neonatal) health care, including family planning services, are needed. Members of the Working Party are still active in many different ways to contribute to reaching the goals of Safe Motherhood.
Is it time for a party afterwards? Yes, it is!!
Some of the younger members of the Working Party have organised a great party with drinks, dinner, music, dancing and most probably even some surprises that even I do not know about yet.
Jelle Stekelenburg, chairman of the Working Party ISM&RH