Poverty, child, maternal deaths high in India: UN report.
Pretoria – The Department of Health has welcomed findings that South Africa is one of the 16 sub-Saharan countries that stand a chance of meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on maternal mortality by 2015.
According to the findings of the study undertaken by the University of Cape Town’s Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa, in conjunction with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, the number of maternal deaths has dropped from about 376 000 in 1990 to about 293 000 in 2013.
Maternal mortality in the country has dropped by almost 7% a year over the past decade – at 171.4 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births.
The study showed that 30 countries had annual reductions in the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of MDG 5 pace or better from 2003 to 2013.
“Eight of which were in sub-Saharan Africa (Botswana, Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, and Swaziland) and 10 in central and eastern Europe (Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Russia,” according to the findings.
However, the study noted that despite reductions in the number of maternal deaths, only 16 countries, seven of which are developing countries, are expected to achieve the MDG 5 target of a 75% reduction in the MMR by 2015.
Speaking to the GCIS Radio Bulletin, health spokesperson Joe Maila stressed the need to work very hard to make sure that the numbers decline even further.
“The numbers that are there right now are not as good and we want them to be less than what it is. We need to make sure that we work very hard to make sure that it indeed declines further.
“If we work together with all the people involved, one of the things we can do is to make sure that mothers – as soon as they are pregnant – come to our facilities within 14 weeks. That (way), we would be able to know what is it that we can do to make sure that we restore their health,” said Maila.
The findings were part of a study into maternal mortality across the globe over the past two decades. The study aimed to measure levels and track trends in maternal mortality, the key causes contributing to maternal death, and timing of maternal death with respect to delivery.
MDG 5 established the goal of a 75% reduction in the number of maternal deaths per 100 000 live births between 1990 and 2015.
According to the 20 Year Review released by The Presidency in February, life expectancy in the country has increased from 52.7 years in 2002 to 59.6 years in 2013. The Infant Mortality Rate has decreased from 63.5 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2002, to 41.7 deaths per live births in 2013.
The under-five mortality rate has also decreased from 92.9 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2002 to 56.6 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2013. Severe malnutrition among children has decreased from 88 971 in 2001 to 23 521 in 2011. –SAnews.gov.za
Dr. Annie Sparrow, a paediatrician and public health expert, is an Assistant Professor of Global Health and Deputy Director of the Human Rights Program at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
Every year, 14 million girls are married off before they turn 18, with devastating consequences for their health, education and wellbeing. 15 out of the 20 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are in Africa.
In an effort to provide a bright future for millions of women and girls, the African Union has launched the first-ever Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa. The two-year campaign, organised in partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA, will focus on accelerating change across the continent by encouraging African governments to develop strategies to raise awareness of and address the harmful impact of child marriage.
The campaign also aims to support policies and action that protect girls’ human rights, and to remove barriers to law enforcement.
The campaign brings together a large range of partners including the Ford Foundation, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Save the Children, Plan International, Africa Child Policy Forum (ACPF) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Ms Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the General Secretary of the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), a member of Girls Not Brides, was named Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to End Child Marriage in Africa.
Child marriage is a reality for millions of children – predominantly girls – across Africa. 39% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before their 18th birthday; 13% are married by their 15th birthday.
The repercussions of marrying as a child affect girls throughout their lives. Marriage often marks the end of girl’s education, limits her economic opportunities outside the home, and exposes her to physical, sexual and emotional violence.
Child marriage also threatens efforts to improve maternal health across Africa. Child brides face higher risk of death and injury in pregnancy and childbirth, with girls under 15 being five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s. Their children are at risk too: when a mother is under 18, her baby is 50% more likely to die in its first year of life than a baby born to older mothers.
Africans are raising their voices on social media in support of the campaign.
Following the celebratory SADC Gender Protocol@Work awards last week, the SADC Gender Protocol Alliance is calling for a strong rights-based approach to the post-2015 SADC Gender Protocol agenda and global development framework.
Last week's regional Summit, which brought together over 400 gender activists, media, government and faith-based organisations from 14 Southern African countries, provided a platform for sharing good practice and acknowledged the work of gender drivers of change. The summit but also held numerous parallel meetings to strategise for continued efforts to achieve gender equality.
Held under the banner "5050 by 2015 and a strong post 2015 agenda" the gathering provided a watershed moment to plan for the year ahead, with ten elections in various Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. The civil society Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance will present the outcomes of the sessions at the SADC Heads of State Summit in August in Zimbabwe.
The 5050 plenary session highlighted the need women's quotas at all levels, particularly political and economic decision-making. With women's representation in politics declining following recent elections in some SADC countries such as South Africa, delegates concluded that deliberate measures need to be legislated and implemented.
The 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol that provides a sub-regional roadmap for Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3 (gender equality) are due to be achieved by 2015, also the deadline for the MDG's. The SADC Gender Protocol Barometer shows that the region is only about two thirds of the way towards achieving these objectives.
Globally, there is a strong movement to strengthen the gender provisions of the post 2015 agenda. The Alliance is leading a campaign for a strong and revitalised SADC Gender Protocol within the context of the global campaign.
At the post-2015 meeting held last week, Alliance members discussed the strengthening of all thematic areas of the post-2015 SADC Gender Protocol, but placed specific emphasis on burning issues across Southern Africa, highlighting the need to recognise that women are not a homogenous group. The Alliance members thus called for a human rights approach to ensure the new framework is aligned to the global developmental agenda for the achievement of voice, choice and control for all women in all sectors of society.
Members of the Alliance stressed specific areas of concern such as women's empowerment and the crucial link between economic independence in helping curb gender based violence (GBV); greater access to sexual and reproductive health rights; disability and gender and the need to acknowledge that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights are fundamental in achieving gender justice and equality. Alliance chair Emma Kaliya from Malawi called for solidarity amongst country representatives by saying, "If an issue is a priority for one country, it is a priority for the whole region."
Climate change and gender justice also remained high on the post-2015 strategy for Southern Africa, especially with the recent discovery of oil and gas in Mozambique. Members called for equitable access to and distribution of wealth, but also environmentally sustainable exploration and development.
Alliance members emphasised the importance of grass roots mobilisation in advancing gender equality, as well as the vital role that youth, men's groups and faith-based organisations play in fighting for human rights and achieving gender justice.
SADC Gender Protocol Alliance members also discussed measures to strengthen and diversify the Alliance in terms of its mandate and also elected a new chairperson– Emma Kaliya, also Chair of the NGO Co-ordination Network in Malawi.
As part of the post-2015 agenda discussion, the Gender, Media and Diversity Centre (GMDC) held a parallel session on gender and media, strategising on how SADC media houses and media training institutions can contribute to the Beijing plus 20 review as well as various initiatives with the newly formed Global Forum on Media and Gender (GAMAG).
This year's SADC Gender Protocol@Work Summit was especially unique because for the first time it followed 15 district level summits and 13 national summits across Southern Africa. It also introduced emerging entrepreneurs as a new category, which saw survivors of GBV presenting their business plans following training rolled out by Gender Links.
After a bilateral meeting, the Namibian delegation said they wanted to introduce a gender summit modelled on the SADC Gender Protocol Summit, to create incentive to mainstream gender in local government ministries within the country.
For the first time five government ministries presented their work on gender mainstreaming and one government ministry went further in scooping the women's rights award. Fifty of the participants that attended the regional summit last week were first-time travellers outside their country and 26 applied for passports for the first time.
The regional Summit together with the district and national summits involved 2363 participants, providing a platform for 190 gender-mainstreaming presentations and awarded a total of 24 winners and 18 runners-up, out of the 185 winners (53 men and 132 women) from the district and national summits.
These gender drivers of change received certificates of recognition and shook hands with the Mauritian Minister for Gender, Mireille Martin and Lesotho's Minister for Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Chief Thesele Maseribane. Representatives from the Department for International Development (DFID) and Norwegian Church Aid congratulated Gender Links, the Alliance and all participants for contributing to the advancement of gender justice and equality in Southern Africa.
Dr. Andrew Nikiindo, Vice Rector at the Polytechnic of Namibia who also spoke at the awards ceremony, urged all participants to continue their fight for gender equality and to carry the baton forward beyond 2015. "Today is an important day for you, these awards show the important role that you have played and are still expected to play in future," stressed Nikiindo
By Katherine Robinson
5 June 2014