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Komura unveils plan to propose G-8 healthcare guidelines.

TOKYO, Nov. 25 Kyodo

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura announced Sunday that Japan will propose that the Group of Eight nations issue guidelines to improve health for mothers and babies in developing countries when the G-8 leaders meet for their annual summit in Hokkaido next July.

''It is indispensable to take comprehensive measures'' including strengthening of the healthcare system and boosting research and development, not only those to fight specific diseases such as AIDS, Komura said in stressing the need for such guidelines in a speech at an international healthcare symposium in Tokyo.

Noting Japan's successful efforts to improve maternity healthcare, Komura highlighted the introduction and expansion of maternity health record books for mothers and babies after World War II.

The books ''helped mothers increase the knowledge of health in general'' and ''drastically improve'' the high mortality rates for infants and mothers, Komura said.

He said efforts by the international community to cope with infectious diseases have made progress, such as the launch of the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

''But the issue of the healthcare for mothers and babies remains a serious problem,'' Komura said.

''In sub-Sahara Africa, 166 out of 1,000 young children die before their 5th birthday comes and the figure is some 20-fold of that in developed countries. The risk of fatal accidents related to women's pregnancy and birth-giving in the region is some 200-fold of that in developed countries,'' Komura said.

''If nothing is done, it would be difficult'' to achieve a 2000 U.N. Millennium goal aimed at eradicating poverty, he warned.

Komura also indicated better infrastructure including road networks and more healthcare facilities are necessary especially in African countries, as well as training more doctors and nurses.

Japan plans to discuss draft guidelines during a G-8 development ministers' meeting next April in Tokyo and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama in May for further talks by the G-8 leaders in July at the Lake Toya hot spring resort area, Japanese government officials said earlier.

The G-8 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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