The money, to be spent on health interventions -- antenatal care, emergency care at the time of birth, post-natal care, treatment of childhood illness and immunization among others -- in the next five years, could save 11 million African women and children.
This would create a near-universal availability of key saving interventions that would see most African countries achieve UN Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which call for reductions in the number of deaths among children under five by two thirds, and reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters by 2015.
"Africa's ministers of health need tools to help them make the case for more spending," said Senegal Minister of Health Modou Diagne Fada, "Yet more money and better use of the money is needed to further improve health outcomes of our population, especially that of women and children."
Maternal, infant and child health and development in Africa was the theme of this year's African Union Summit in Kampala, Uganda.
The focus on the health of women and children is also gaining impetus beyond Africa.
With only five years left to achieve the MDGs, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in April announced a Joint Action Plan to intensify the global effort to improve the health of women and children.
The Action Plan will be launched at the MDG Review Summit in September.
Joint action plan
According to the UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, the Joint Action Plan relies on collaboration and optimal contributions from all stakeholders.
The Joint Action Plan also proposes accountability to ensure that commitments are delivered.
"African leaders have recognised that the health of women and children is essential to the health of a nation, and that investing in women and children's health makes good economic sense," said Dr Migiro.
"2010 marks a five-year point to assess our progress and accelerate our efforts toward achieving all of the MDGs. I urge African governments to reaffirm their commitment towards improving the health of women and children."
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), maternal deaths happen for two reasons: a direct obstetric death which is caused by complication that develop directly as a result of pregnancy, delivery or the postpartum period and an indirect obstetric death, which is due to existing medical conditions that are made worse by delivery or pregnancy.
But the numbers of maternal deaths are either rising or remaining stagnant now because of various factors.
"Women are giving birth when they are either too young or old and sometimes they have too many children and frequently," said Dr Angelina Dawa, the development director of Abantu.
Source: The East African