Maternal health will be the focus over the next week when Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon begins a four-nation trip that will take the United Nations chief to Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ethiopia and France, his spokesperson said today.

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Women and youth have the capacity to spur economic growth and reduce poverty in the world’s least development country if given access to education, employment and health, including family planning services, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says in a report unveiled today.

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On Apr. 5, the United Nations Children's Fund will launch a report on teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone.

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The European Commission's Humanitarian Office (ECHO) has doled out 6.6 million (about $8.1 million) to support UNICEF and the government of Sierra Leone in achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health in the country.

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Delhi's high court has ordered the capital's government to build shelters for destitute pregnant women so they can receive care when giving birth. It is treating maternal mortality as a human rights violation.

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The number of women who die in childbirth in the country has doubled in the past decade because of the poor state of the health delivery system, a senior government official has said.

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In an effort to curb child and maternal mortality rates in Zimbabwe, the United Nations and the World Bank are supporting a $700 million Government initiative to increase spending on the provision of health services in the country over the next three years.

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Africa's high rates of maternal and child mortality could be solved through the development of a bio-fortified genetically modified banana as preliminary results of a joint research project between Ugandan and Australian scientists have proved positive.

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Two years spent training traditional birth attendants in remote rural areas has allowed Rwanda to reduce the country's maternal mortality rate, says the country's health department.

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Just days before the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) summit, Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s International Development Secretary, announced a change in direction, putting women and children at the centre of its aid policy. This shift will double the number of female and newborn lives saved by 2015, Mitchell will tell the assembled heads of state in New York on 20-22 September.

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