Amref Health Africa Renews Pledge to Maternal, Child Health Programmes

New York — Amref Health Africa, in partnership with its donors and sponsors, will invest a further $2.4million in maternal and child health programmes.
The investment is aimed at training 8,000 additional midwives to update their skills in saving the lives of mothers and newborns in eight countries across Africa from 2015-2017.

Dr Githinji Gitahi, CEO, Amref Health Africa says the additional training will be provided through the organization’s global campaign, Stand Up for African Mothers. The campaign aims to mobilize citizens worldwide to ensure mothers get basic medical care during pregnancy and childbirth.

“Every year in sub-Saharan Africa, almost 200,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. One in 39 women in sub-Saharan Africa is at risk of dying of pregnancy related complications, compared to one in 4,300 in developed countries,” says Dr Gitahi.

“The unacceptably high incidence of maternal death in sub-Saharan Africa can largely be prevented through basic emergency medical care provided by trained and skilled midwives. This investment will enable Amref Health Africa to reach, per year, four million women of reproductive age and assist in the delivery and care of 800,000 newborns.”

To mark its commitment to Every Woman Every Child, Amref Health Africa will train these additional 8,000 midwives across eight African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Senegal, Malawi and Zambia. This initiative will contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the Proposed Goal 3, which seeks to “increase substantially health financing and the recruitment, development and training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries.”
Adds Dr Gitahi: “Midwives save lives. It is estimated that a midwife can assist at least 500 women during childbirth per year and deliver a minimum of 100 babies. They encourage pregnant women to undergo at least four antenatal visits, administer preventative medication (anti-malaria, deworming etc.), educate women about family planning, assist with the birth and follow-up and can respond or refer in complicated labour emergencies. ”

Statistics reflect much lower maternal mortality rates when women are attended by skilled health workers.

“Unfortunately Africa has a critical shortage of midwives, both in numbers and competencies. The majority of midwives in Africa has only received basic training and requires upgrading or further training to meet global standards for midwifery.

Amref Health Africa, through our Stand Up for African Mothers campaign has prioritised training of midwives as one of the key strategies to reduce deaths of mothers and newborns in the countries with the highest maternal deaths in Africa,” concludes Dr Gitahi.
Dr Gitahi attended the launch event of Every Woman Every Child in New York during the United Nations General Assembly week. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “announced $25 billion in initial commitments spanning five years to help end preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents, and ensure their health and well-being.”

Every Woman Every Child is a multi-stakeholder movement to implement the United Nations’ new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, focusing on countries with a high burden of women’s and children’s health problems to accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular MDGs 4, 5 and 6 as well as the new objectives put forward by the Sustainable Development Goals framework.

Spearheaded by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Every Woman Every Child recognises that all partners – including governments, philanthropic organizations, multilateral institutions, civil society, business, health professionals and academia – have an essential role to play in improving women’s and children’s health.

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