Dec 2011 Issue
Regional economic blocks pledge to do their bit to reduce maternal deaths in Africa
Senior representatives of four of Africa’s Regional Economic Communities pledged to contribute to efforts to reduce the unacceptably high maternal mortality rates in their regions. They made the pledge at a high-level advocacy workshop organized by the International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Regional Office (IPPFAR) from August 31 to September 2, 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya. This workshop, entitled “Multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on SRHR in Africa: Towards the ICPD +20 review and the post MDG’s agenda setting”, provided a platform for deliberation of findings from a study conducted by AFIDEP in partnership with IPPFAR. The representatives were drawn from the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The meeting also included representatives of the African Union, UNFPA, UNDP, WHO, and other regional and national institutions working on reproductive health issues in Africa.
What the Evidence Showed
The study examined progress towards attainment of MDGs 5a (reduction of maternal mortality) and 5b (universal access to reproductive health services, including family planning (FP)), and drew policy and program lessons from countries that made the most progress on these MDGs.
Maternal deaths remain worryingly high Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is the worst performer on MDG 5A on maternal health, accounting for about 60% of all maternal deaths globally, and with most of the countries falling far short of the MDG target to reduce Maternal Mortality
Ratios (MMRs) by 75% between 1990 and 2015. Progress in reducing maternal deaths has been insufficient, slow, and varied across regions and countries. A key positive to take from the trends is that all regions made greater progress in reducing MMRs during the 2000s compared to the 1990s. This, together with the lessons that are propelling progress in a few countries, show that the continent can move closer to the MDG 5b target by 2015 if countries reinforce political will, technical capacity, and financial resources to accelerate the implementation of proven and affordable interventions on safe motherhood. Download full newsletter (PDF)