Following the call by the African Union (AU) together with other International Organizations to try and curb the increasing number of maternal mortality, it has emerged that the African continent continues to experience the highest rate of deaths among pregnant women when giving birth.
Speaking during the launch of the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) in Maun on Saturday, the African Union High Commissioner to Botswana (Social Affairs), Advocate Bience Gawanas, revealed that Africa still has a long way to go in fighting the challenge.
“Every year in Africa about 30 million women become pregnant and 204 000 African mothers die in pregnancy and child related causes,” she said.
She added that one of the worrisome factors is that Africa still has 1.16 million children dying in the first months of their lives.
Gawanas stated that the continent still has a huge challenge ahead to try and curb the situation by tackling discrimination against women, increasing resources to strengthen health systems, universal access to care, inclusion of thorough skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetric care, and expanding access to family planning.
“Lack of reproductive choices for women, child marriage, sexual violence, exposure to unsafe abortions and the inability to own property are linked to slow progress on achieving this and other Millennium Developmental Goals,” she added.
However, touching on the situation in Botswana, Gawanas pointed out that the AU and the international community will extend their support to the government of Botswana by bringing about the sustainable human and social development. She said that there is still a lot be done after the Maun launch and maintained that it is crucial that efforts are pooled together in order to fight the challenge.
“I want to assure you that I, personally, as the High Commissioner for Social Affairs will always be ready to support the efforts to make Africa fit for mothers and further reduce the escalating rate of these misfortunes,” she said.
The launch of CARMMA in Maun was based on the growing concern that there is a continuous growth of the maternal mortality rate on women and children around the world, especially in Africa.
The event was organized by the African Union in conjunction with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) and the Ministry of Health. The concept of CARMMA was derived from the 2005 AU Policy Framework for the promotion of Sexual Reproductive Health and rights in Africa and the 2008 Maputo Plan of Action.
The initiative is driven by the AU Department of Social Affairs in close collaboration with the member states and other key stakeholders.