Friday morning: Rome

Am out early to head back to Rome to the Headquarters of the World Food Programme for a G8 spouses event on Women Saving Lives. We are met by the Executive Director Josette Sheeran who presents each of us with a red plastic feeding cup – the cup filled with food on their emergency feeding programmes at the cost of just over ₤1 a week. Many spouses are here: from Canada, EU, Japan, India, and South Africa – and today we are joined by those from Nigeria and South Korea. A group of school children from Ghana sing and talk about their experience of WFP feeding programmes, and we hear more about the links to local agriculture and building up community sustainability. Still one in six people woke up this morning not knowing if they will eat today. It must be possible – indeed it feels necessary – to right this wrong in our generation.
Saving Lives
Joining the World Food Programme event is Rose Mlai, a midwife from Tanzania and Head of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood there. The most vulnerable in any community are the youngest children, and the nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers is absolutely key to their survival and wellbeing during those critical early years. Her message is straightforward; that the health – and safety – of pregnant mothers and newborns is best served by good nutrition and a qualified healthcare provider to assist with antenatal care, safe delivery and attending to mother and baby after birth. My work with the Maternal Mortality Campaign convinces me that saving the lives of a mother is at the heart of saving her children, her community and her environment – and at the heart of achieving all of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Italian G8 leaders have successfully delivered a maternal health consensus that builds the momentum to save lives, and support for a financing taskforce that will allow money to be raised for employing more healthcare professionals where they are most needed. Today’s $20bn agreement on food security is also very welcome to everyone I meet.

At the World Food Programme Event we are able to serve out a cup of food and see firsthand the simple equipment needed for safe delivery that, along with treated malaria bed nets also on display, will save more lives. At the end of this event it is time for me to say goodbye to the hosts and all the First Ladies and Prime Ministers’ wives. I am now heading back to L’Aquila to join Gordon at the close of the G8 Summit.

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