#Article (Archive)

No woman should die while giving birth!

Jul 21, 2010, 4:03 PM

Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa, is the chosen theme of the 15th Ordinary Session of the Summit of the African Union (AU), which is currently underway in Uganda.

The significance of this theme cannot be over-emphasised, bearing in mind that there are just five years to go before the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline.

This also remind us all of the need to have a very comprehensive and integrated approach to health with more emphasis on women and children.

We are with the view that African countries have to focus a lot on strengthening their health systems.

We have seen many reports which say Africa is falling behind in terms of realising the MDGs, especially numbers: 4 and 5 which relate to women and children.

We, therefore, commend the AU for bringing this matter to the fore in a broader way than they have done before.

This is yet another opportunity for our leaders to interact to follow-up on the decisions they have taken with regards to maternal, infant and child health.

A lot of people are starting to talk about maternal mortality, sexual and reproductive health, as well as rights which are usually viewed as taboo subjects in some of our traditional societies. But it is good to see that we are increasingly challenging cultural traditions that are harmful to our children.

It is only women that give birth and it is only women that die while giving life.

Countries in Africa should promote maternal, infant and child health and report on progress, in order to curb high deaths rates on the continent,

Africa has some of the highest rates of maternal, infant and child mortality. More than 500,000 women die in childbirth or from complications related to pregnancy each year, according to UNICEF.

A woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1:16 chance of dying during pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1: 4,000 chance in the developed countries.

One of the main challenges in the promotion of maternal, infant and child health and development is access to health care facilities and services, especially at primary health delivery level and in rural areas.

The constraint caused by limited availability of drugs at affordable prices is another thing that African leaders attending the Kampala Summit needs to carefully looked into.