Breaking News

Mothers' health is improving across Africa

by Arao Ameny
27 February 2013 | 2121 Views
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks with new mothers at the Maitama General Hospital in Abuja. Photo: UN/Eskinder Debebe

But far too many are still dying from childbirth complications




In recent years, the shrill cries of a newborn baby have been bringing more shouts of joy than of anguish in maternity wards across Africa. That is because maternal deaths are decreasing on the continent, says Gifty Addico, a South Africa-based adviser for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). New figures in a UN report, Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010, show that maternal mortality has declined by 41 per cent in the past 10 years in sub-Saharan Africa.

"More mothers and their babies are staying alive after birth, and this is a very good sign," comments Ms. Addico, as the inflection of her voice rises in excitement. "But we need to do more to make sure that every mother lives to see her child," she told Africa Renewal.

Maternal deaths drop

An awareness campaign called Every Woman, Every Child, initiated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September 2010, has been supporting efforts to reduce maternal deaths. The campaign aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015, as part of the broader drive for the UN Millennium Development Goals.

A similar programme was launched a year earlier. The African-led initiative, called the Campaign for the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA), was set up by the African Union in partnership with UNFPA. It lent strong support to existing strategies and plans on the ground, rather than developing new ones.

Within three years of CARMMA's initiation, 37 of the 54 countries in Africa had taken steps to upgrade national maternal health programmes and services. About 30 have made explicit political commitments, such as setting aside funds specifically for maternal health. Rwanda now offers financial incentives to health facilities that are high performers.

CARMMA urged African countries to put together "a roadmap for maternal and new-born health," Dr. Wilfred Ochan, a UNFPA assistant representative, told Africa Renewal. Uganda and Kenya, for instance, focus on training midwives, improving ambulance response times, enhancing community mobilization, reducing the number of still births and increased the use of family planning programmes.

Akinyele Eric Dairo, a senior programme and technical advisor to the UNFPA, toldAfrica Renewal that maternal health has been improving due to "the greater attention that the African Union and its members states" have given to the problem.

Motherless children

But in the midst of such progress, the reality remains that every year more than a million children are left motherless. Globally, one in 30 women still dies from complications of childbirth, and half a million of them die from preventable causes, reports the UNFPA. "This is unacceptable," Ms. Addico emphasizes. "Just unacceptable."

High fees for childbirth services and hospital stays, little or no access to nearby health facilities and shortages of health workers are some of the factors affecting maternal health, explains the World Health Organization (WHO). As a result, complications in childbirth can pose very high risks to maternal and infant health alike.

Ms. Addico cites the poor quality of Africa's health systems. Mothers who make it to a hospital may have to wait long hours to see a doctor. Facilities often do not have adequate resources ' either equipment or staff - to help mothers deliver.

WHO also reports that women, especially young prospective mothers, may not be fully aware of the health risks when they are about to deliver. Young women who became pregnant and gave birth between ages of 15 and 20 are twice as likely to die during childbirth as women in their 20s or older. Girls under the age of 15 are five times more likely to die during childbirth.

"This is something we need to change," insists Dr. Ochan. He believes that working with influential cultural and religious leaders could help solve some of the issues.

Religious barriers have long posed challenges, Ms. Addico agrees. Some health facilities run by religious groups, for example, may not offer family planning options or other alternatives they disagree with.

The East African Community has made an effort to harmonize policies across that region by making sure that women who go to a religious hospital are also seen by an alternative healthcare facility.

Limited health care access for female patients suffering from HIV/AIDS is another obstacle, Ms. Addico points out. "We tend to forget that women with HIV have maternal and reproductive needs because of the [AIDS] stigma. We cannot overlook them."

Need to invest more

Despite significant gains in maternal health, argues Mr. Dairo, there is still "a very urgent need to keep intensifying maternal health interventions." He notes that investments in women's health, especially sexual and reproductive health, can prevent death during delivery.

According to UNFPA, only six countries (Rwanda, Botswana, Niger, Malawi, Zambia and Burkina Faso) have met the target of allocating at least 15 per cent of their annual budget to health, a goal set at an African summit on HIV/AIDS held in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2000.

Moreover, Mr. Dairo adds, many of the countries that reached the 15 per cent goal did so "due to contributions from external donors to the health sector." He proposes that African countries deliberately and consistently set aside money from their own budgets for health care, "especially when it comes caring for women and children."


health

Source: Africa Renewal www.un.org

Comments

Latest News

Prophet features in ‘Blood Money’ - POPULAR Dangamvura-based proph...

by Liberty Dube | 29 April 2016 | 724 Views

Evil HIV+ man on the run…deliberately infected Mutare women - A Muta...

by Cletus Mushanawani | 29 April 2016 | 757 Views

Soldier sucked in night club murder

by Samuel Kadungure | 29 April 2016 | 852 Views

Soldiers bash cops at club

by Collette Mukome | 29 April 2016 | 1035 Views

Female drunkard stabs buddy with broken bottle

by Tendai Gukutikwa | 29 April 2016 | 599 Views

Late father exposes daughter’s rape

by Abel Zhakata | 29 April 2016 | 1323 Views

Man beds minor, fined $200

by Collette Mukome | 29 April 2016 | 689 Views

Retrenched man offers $10 maintenance

by Blessing Rwizi | 29 April 2016 | 390 Views

Spiritual wives wreck marriage

by Tendai Gukutikwa | 29 April 2016 | 902 Views

Touts clash in Mutare - VIOLENCE erupted at Mutare’s Sakubva high-de...

by Abel Zhakata | 29 April 2016 | 435 Views

Road traffic accidents cause neuro surgical backlog

by Mirirai Nsingo | 29 April 2016 | 877 Views

'Gono stole my $100 000, he is a thief,' says Kereke - Bikita West leg...

by Fungai Lupande | 29 April 2016 | 1116 Views

Zanu-PF threatens bloody 2018 polls - TOP Zanu-PF officials and tradit...

by Staff reporter | 29 April 2016 | 1510 Views

Zanu-PF bigwigs exposed in Kondozi scandal - Chris Mushohwe Informatio...

by Staff reporter | 29 April 2016 | 1168 Views

Army resistance shocks Mugabe - President Robert Mugabe is reportedly ...

by Staff reporter | 29 April 2016 | 3613 Views

Ex-Minister dumps Zanu-PF for Mujuru - As internal strife continues to...

by Staff reporter | 29 April 2016 | 2071 Views

Workers reject govt May Day proposal - Workers have rejected governmen...

by Staff reporter | 29 April 2016 | 1083 Views

Cash crisis: Schools must bear with parents - The cash shortages curre...

by Rufaro Mufundirwa in Harare | 29 April 2016 | 772 Views

Let's instruct our children not to recite the national schools pledge ...

by Tendai Ruben Mbofana | 29 April 2016 | 673 Views

Nkulumane MP in maintenace row - Nkulumane MP Killian Sibanda yesterda...

by Tanaka Mrewa | 29 April 2016 | 499 Views

MultiChoice swoops on bogus DStv agents - BOGUS DStv agents facilitati...

by Showbiz Reporter | 29 April 2016 | 815 Views

Togolese President to officially open ZITF - THE Zimbabwe Internationa...

by Prosper Ndlovu | 29 April 2016 | 322 Views

Bosso, Bulawayo City battle for bragging rights - BRAGGING rights will...

by Raymond Jaravaza | 29 April 2016 | 557 Views

Cash shortages persist in Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe has been experiencing ca...

by Staff Reporter | 29 April 2016 | 899 Views

UNICEF to fund sustainable energy projects - Stakeholders in the energ...

by Staff Reporter | 29 April 2016 | 339 Views

David Connolly ordered to vacate Centenary Farm - A HIGH Court judge y...

by Mashudu Netsianda | 29 April 2016 | 1213 Views

18,000 families ordered out of farms - THE government has issued 18,00...

by Patrick Chitumba | 29 April 2016 | 1189 Views

Dembare gets Gwekwerere clearance - DYNAMOS secretary-general Webster ...

by Eddie Chikamhi | 29 April 2016 | 744 Views

Zvirekwi taunts Dembare, 'time to silence big, noisy neighbours' - CAP...

by Grace Chingoma | 29 April 2016 | 579 Views

Mwanjali returns to face Dembare - CAPS United skipper Method Mwanjali...

by Grace Chingoma | 29 April 2016 | 515 Views

Entertainment

Busi Mhlanga flies Zimbabwe flag high in foreign lands

by Mafu Sithabile | 29 April 2016 | 2193 Views

Bev, Zoey unite - Pole dancers Zoey Noleen Sifelani and Beverly Siband...

by Staff reporter | 28 April 2016 | 1352 Views

Peter Moyo dumps fans, opts to sing at Magaya's church

by Staff Reporter | 28 April 2016 | 2330 Views

I belong to Africa, says Dorothy Masuka - DESPITE being a darling of m...

by Bruce Ndlovu | 28 April 2016 | 1462 Views

Hip-hop artistes salute Mugabe's son - Budding hip-hop artistes Panash...

by Staff reporter | 28 April 2016 | 1548 Views

Popular comedian Madlela releases 'comic' music album

by Divine Dube | 27 April 2016 | 2057 Views

Tau bounces back to Generations - Generations: The Legacy lead actor R...

by Staff reporter | 27 April 2016 | 3193 Views
iBlog

Greatsoftline For All Of Your Software Needs

coupon and promo codes: greatsoftline for all of your software needswhile some online sellers have promotional services that reduce the overall amount you spent, others do not .you need to be on the lookout for the best outlets in order to chase th... Read More
ITnews 25 February 2015 ago

Mobile Spy Software Maker Mspy Hacked

mspy, the makers of a software-as-a-service product that claims to help more than two million people spy on the mobile devices of their kids and partners, to have been massively hacked. a public relations pitch from mspy to krebsonsecurity in march ... Read More
SecNews 17 May 2015 ago