Category Archives: Southern African Development Community

Women’s health communities critical to reducing maternal and child mortality in Africa.

Obstetricians and gynecologists, ministers, public health specialists and civil society organizations convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 2-5 October at the First International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Africa Regional Conference to discuss ways of improving maternal and child health in Africa.

Speaking at the opening, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme, Luiz Loures highlighted the link between HIV and maternal and child health. He called for women’s health and HIV communities to closely work together to increase access to life-saving health services to reach the most marginalized in society.  He also stressed the need to uphold the sexual and reproductive rights of women living with HIV.

In sub-Saharan Africa, women are more likely to be living with HIV than men, accounting for 58% of the 22.1 million adults who were living with HIV in the region in 2012. Young women are particularly at risk of HIV infection–– around 28% of all new adult HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa are among young women between the ages of 15-24. HIV is also a leading cause of death among women of reproductive age and has a major impact on child health and mortality, mainly through the transmission of HIV from mother to child.

Dr Loures congratulated FIGO on its visionary and bold work on women’s sexual and reproductive rights. He also underscored UNAIDS commitment to strengthening its collaboration with FIGO to raise political visibility and engage women’s networks on HIV and sexual and reproductive rights issues to reduce AIDS related maternal and child mortality.

Quotable

Human rights must be at the centre of our practice as everyone has a right to live. Our primary commitment as physicians is to save lives.

Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme

FIGO looks forward to active collaboration with UNAIDS to ensure the protection of the rights of women living with HIV regarding access to their services in the health sector.

Professor Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, FIGO President

Ethiopia has made excellent progress towards achieving the millennium development goals on maternal and child health and we are grateful for the assistance from our partners, such as FIGO and UNAIDS.

Dr Amir Amare, State Minister at the Federal Ministry of Health – Ethiopia

Are you in(volved)? Are you in(vited)? Are you in (ICPD)?

Are you in (ICPD)?

On 30th September – 4th October 2013, the African Regional Conference on Population and Development will be held in Addis Ababa to review progress toward the ICPD Programme of Action. This conference will bring together representatives from African government, civil society and youth organisations, and will agree a set of priorities, challenges and emerging issues for the African region.

Are you in(vited)?

From the 24th-25th September, youths from across Africa will come together during the Youth Pre-conference to identify their priorities. This will be followed by the CSO Pre-conference to be held on 26th-27th September (also tasked with identification of priorities). These combined recommendations will be presented before the experts prior to the Ministerial meeting from 30th– 4th September, 2013.

Are you in(formed)?

In response to the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA), the African Union Commission (AUC), AAI and the African Population Commission (APC) worked together to develop the African Common Position on ICPD by means of Regional Consultative Meetings which was followed by a second round of E-consultations. This generated recommendations from over 70 African experts in line with key themes within the document. On completion and adoption of all these recommendations, 342 civil society organizations signed the CSO African Common Position endorsing it as a document that represents their needs going into the Sept conference and ICPD Review process.

The CSO ACP was submitted to H.E. Dr. Mustapha S. Kaloko, the Commissioner of Social Affairs at the AUC on 5 June, 2013. The CSO African Common Position on ICPD is expected to inform the youth, CSO pre-conference documents and the experts meeting. We are currently lobbying those who will be in the experts’ room, and ensuring ministers of health receive a copy of the CSO African Common Position on ICPD prior to the conference. In addition, we continue circulating the CSO African Common Position through all our social media platforms.

Are you in(volved)?

Read more on the African Common Position on ICPD, as this document contains a set of recommendations aimed at the African Union Commission and Africa’s national governments so as to address population and development issues on the African Continent in the ICPD+20 review process. This will ensure your meaningful participation at the Regional Conference on Population and Development as we advocate for key priorities for Africa. We further ask you to be involved by lobbying your contacts too for inclusion of contents of the CSO African Common Position and vote at the Regional Conference on Population and Development. Lastly, follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn for continued updates.

To make it easier for you, AAI has distilled the full Civil Society African Common Position on ICPD into a 2 page Key Messages in Brief document

The African Common Position is also available in Portuguese, French and Arabic:

Agora disponivel em portugues

Maintenant disponible en francais

الآن باللغة العربية

We sincerely hope that you will find the above information useful as we prepare for the Regional Conference on Population and Development.

Best regards,

The AAI Team

 

Are you in(cluded)?

Failure to include reproductive health for women as a priority affects sub-Saharan African economies, expert says

Failure for Sub-Saharan African countries to work towards achieving Millennium Development Goals on health will impact all other aspects of development including economic growth, Akatsa Bukachi, Director, Eastern Africa Sub-region Support Initiative for the Advancement of women (EASSI) has said.

Speaking to Africa Science News in Busia town, Bukachi said the Sub-Saharan Africa region is deficient in areas of reproductive health that is crucial for addressing the MDG on Children and maternal in health. Bukachi observed that reproductive health is fundamental in the advancement of women and girl child in Africa.

She noted that the African continent will only achieve its MDG on health if proper incentives to improve family planning, reduce maternal mortality and prevent HIV/Aids infections are prioritized. Family planning as a strong component of better reproductive health has steadily declined in the recent years in sub-Saharan Africa but it needs to be prioritised.

In the last 10 years, Sub-Saharan Africa region still grapples with the highest number of maternal mortality ratio of 500 maternal deaths in 100,000 lives.

Bukachi said that despite most countries in the region boasting that the number of women dying as a result of pregnancy and child birth-related complications has declined to 47 percent from more than 543,000 to 287,000 cases globally has been registered, nonetheless, the war against maternal mortality especially is far from over. She called for synergy to advocate for a strong pillar in reproductive health agenda.

The Director disclosed that reproductive health challenges are huge and women should take their positions in addressing the problems.

The Eastern Africa Sub-region Support Initiative for the Advancement of women is on the front to advocate for a complete diet and women girl child health situation in Eastern Africa Region.

In most cases in Africa continent, nutrition has always played out in the rising statistics of maternal mortality ratio in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The organisation operates in eight Eastern Africa Countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia. Other countries in clued; Ethiopia, Rwanda, Eritrea and Burundi.

By Cheki Abuje

http://www.africasciencenews.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=940:poor-reproductive-health-to-affect-sub-saharan-african-economies-expert-says&catid=63:health&Itemid=114

UN Deploys Women Protection Advisers to Curb Rape in Africa

Despite the United Nations’ zero-tolerance policy against sexual violence, gender-based crimes have broken out across several of the world’s latest conflict zones. Included on that list are South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Uganda, Somalia and the Central African Republic.

Describing rape as “a weapon of war”, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council last month that sexual violence occurred wherever conflicts raged, “devastating survivors and destroying the social fabric of whole communities”.

“It was a crime under international human rights law and a threat to international peace and security,” he said.

Since most of the heinous crimes are taking place in conflict zones overseen by UN peacekeeping missions, the preeminent international organization is issuing Women Protection Advisers (WPAs) to specifically curb sexual violence in war zones. For starters, they will be deployed with peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, DRC, Mali and Somalia.

“First-ever scenario-based training programme”

The secretary-general said that UN Women and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) have developed, on behalf of the UN Action Network, the “first-ever scenario-based training programme for peacekeepers”. Noteworthy is the fact that some UN peacekeepers have in the past, along with aid workers, been accused of sexual violence – specifically in South Sudan, DRC, Ivory Coast and Haiti.

The UN will also set up a team of experts on “the rule of law and sexual violence in conflict”, described as an important tool for strengthening national justice systems and legal frameworks. The team has already provided technical advice to governments in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Ivory Coast, DRC, Guinea, Liberia, Somalia and South Sudan.

DRC situation is “unacceptable”

More recently, in late June, the United Nations described as “unacceptable” several cases of rape of young girls in DRC. Nine young girls, aged between 18 months and 12 years, were admitted to a hospital in South Kivu with marks of violence on their bodies and very serious internal wounds, resulting in the death of two.

“Such violence and abuse is unacceptable and must be brought to an end,” said Roger Meece, head of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC. “These abuses are said to be related to harmful traditional practices perpetrated by individuals who kidnap young children from their communities.”

There were also widespread reports of 135 women and girls allegedly raped by government soldiers in Minova in eastern DRC back in 2012.

Safety and dignity of survivors

The UN should take urgent action to ensure that WPAs be trained before their deployment and encouraged to work collaboratively with already operational humanitarian structures, said Marcy Hersh, a senior advocate for women and girls’ rights at Refugees International. Additionally, they should be held accountable to fundamental and non-negotiable ethical and safety criteria for investigating sexual violence in conflict, which preserves the safety and dignity of survivors.

Hersh said the recently unanimously passed Security Council Resolution 2106 includes language that is in accordance with these recommendations in its calls for the timely deployment of WPAs, their adequate training, and their coordination across multiple sectors.

 

By Thalif Deen

22 July 2013

http://allafrica.com/stories/201307220443.html?viewall=1

 

Women’s Rights in Africa: 18 countries are yet to ratify the Maputo Protocol!

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the Coalition of the campaign, Africa for Womens’ Rights : Ratify and Respect reiterates its call for the continental ratification of this progressive instrument within the African human rights system and for its effective implementation.

Adopted on July 11, 2013, to complement and strengthen the articles of the African Charter related to the protection and promotion of women’s rights, the Maputo Protocol is an important instrument of reference. Its provisions, with regard to civil and political rights, physical and psychological integrity, sexual and reproductive health, non-discrimination, economic emancipation, among others, symbolise African States’ commitments to put an end to discrimination, violence and gender stereotypes against women.

« The adoption of the Maputo Protocol was an exceptional moment, historical for the realisation of the rights of women in Africa. Today, this instrument constitutes a model, a endless source of inspiration. Provided its ratification and full implementation, it can represent a real tool of action for the lasting transformation of our societies » declared Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the rights of women in Africa.

36 out of 54 member States of the African Union (AU) have so far ratified the Protocol, a clear victory for those who over the years have tirelessly mobilised and worked to achieve this goal. Moreover, in many countries, legal and institutional measures, such as laws prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence (Kenya, Liberia), criminalising domestic violence (Ghana, Mozambique), prohibiting female genital mutilation (Uganda, Zimbabwe) or establishing mechanisms mandated to promote women’s rights (Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal), have accompanied these ratifications.

 

 

See the interview of Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the rights of women in Africa, on the progress made and challenges remaining since the adoption of the Protocol (interview conducted on 10 July 2013)

 

Despite these notable achievements, there are still some obstacles to the full realisation of women’s rights on the continent. Eighteen (18) states [1], have still not ratified the Protocol, and in several of these countries – including Sudan, Central African Republic or Egypt, which still facing serious political crisis or situations of armed conflicts – women continue to be the main targets of violence, discrimination and stigmatisation.

For Sheila Nabachwa, FIDH Vice President and Ag. Deputy Executive Director (Programs) at the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI – Uganda), «Non-State Parties should understand that, today, the trend goes on the other side. 10 years after its adoption, it is time for these States to ratify the Protocol and accept that the guarantee and protection of women’s fundamental rights can no longer suffer from political, cultural or religious considerations or pretexts ».

In State Parties, several of the rights enshrined in the Protocol, or provided within national laws, are yet to be fully implemented. In DRC, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, thousands of women victims of sexual violence continue to demand justice and compensation; in Uganda, they are still waiting for equality within the family to be recognised ; in Nigeria, they continue to fight for their right to property to become a reality. Unfortunately, most of the State Parties do not respect their obligation, under article 26 of the Protocol, to indicate, in their periodic reports submitted to the ACHPR, the measures undertaken for the full realisation of women’s rights as provided within the Maputo Protocol.

«The adoption of the Maputo Protocol by African States represented a formidable progress from a legal point of view ; its effective implementation should now symbolise the respect of the obligations they have freely consented to abide by » declared Mabassa Fall, FIDH Representative to the African Union.

On this tenth anniversary of the Maputo Protocol, the Coalition of the Campaign Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect pays tribute to the determination and courage of the women and men who advocate tirelessly to ensure that the rights guaranteed in the Maputo Protocol are not lost. In this regard, our Coalition notes with concerns the repeated attacks in several countries against women activists, a phenomenon that must be taken seriously and to which States must respond without delay. The Coalition of the Campaign calls on all national, regional and international actors to join the considerable efforts that are made on a daily basis for the ratification and enforcement of the Maputo Protocol.
SOURCE : International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)10 July 2013

http://world.einnews.com/pr_news/158178028/women-s-rights-in-africa-18-countries-are-yet-to-ratify-the-maputo-protocol

Kenya signals partnership with UNAIDS, Global Fund

The leaders of the Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Kenya’s government recently met in Nairobi to discuss the fight against deadly diseases.

Mark Dybul, the executive director of the Global Fund, and Michel Sidibe, the executive director of UNAIDS, met with the leaders of Kenya’s new government, the Global Fund said on Monday. The leaders, other civil society organizations and their partners signed two grant agreements worth $27 million to support new programs to fight diseases like HIV and TB.

“In Kenya, and in other countries, the most effective prevention often comes by reaching those most vulnerable to infection,” Dybul said. “We can be most effective when all partners are moving in the same direction.”

The grants will be jointly implemented by Kenya’s Ministry of Finance and by the African Medical and Research Foundation. The grants will support programs to improve the treatment and diagnosis of TB, reduce diagnostic delays in vulnerable communities, provide nutritional support to TB patients and protect TB/HIV co-infected patients.

“Kenya can have a profound effect on the AIDS response if it continues to lead in a people-centered approach to health,” Sidibe said. “If all people in Kenya can access essential health services with dignity and without fear – then surely this country can tip the balance of the epidemic in Africa.”

Kenya is ranked 13th among the 22 highest burden TB countries in the world. The absolute number of notified TB cases grew 10-fold in Kenya since 1990.

The HIV epidemic is the most significant driver of the TB burden increase in Kenya.

By Paul Tinder

2 June 2013

http://vaccinenewsdaily.com/medical_countermeasures/325851-kenya-signals-partnership-with-unaids-global-fund/

 

More people living longer with HIV in SA.

South Africa has more people living longer with HIV, which is attributed to the country’s anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment programme. The National HIV Household Survey for 2012 shows about 6.4 million people in South Africa are living with HIV, or about 12.3% of the population.

These figures are up from 5.6 million or 10.3% of the population, in 2008. Over 2 million people are on ARV treatment.

Dr Khangelani Zuma of the Human Sciences Research Council presented some of the survey’s findings at the 6th South African Aids Conference in Durban.

“When we looked deeper into the results is that the prevalence of HIV has increased among people who are 25 years and above, but among those that are 15 years to 24 years HIV prevalence has gone down, which means actually fewer youth is HIV positive. But more people who are 25 and above are HIV positive which has a steady increase that could be attributed to the success of ARV therapy,” says Zuma.

A more worrying finding is that condom use among the youth between 15 to 24 years, and among adults aged 25 to 49 has significantly declined.

The Health Department’s Dr Yogan Pillay says they’re extending condom distribution.

“The department is currently working on condom distribution plans at district level which is far more targeted for both male and female condoms because we recognise that while we need combination prevention, condoms work,” says Pillay.

Pillay adds: ” We buy a lot of condoms, 500 male condoms are not enough but 12 million female condoms. The question is who is using it and for those that are not using it why aren’t they using it and what can we do about it. Those are critical questions that we need to answer.”

20 June 2013

By The SABC

http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/fe35ca80400ec8cbb054f20b5d39e4bb/More-people-living-longer-with-HIV-in-SA-20132006

 

Male circumcision could save Zimbabwe US$3 billion.

Zimbabwe could save up to US$3 billion in treatment of HIV and Aids and downstream costs if the country can scale up its Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC), a health official has said.

Report by Christopher Mahove

Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, HIV and Aids and TB Specialist, Owen Mugurungi, said if the VMMC was to make an impact in the country, there was need for a rapid scaling up of the programme among the 15 to 49 age groups to above the 80% mark, which translated to 1,9 million men.

“If we do that, we will be able to reduce the rate of HIV infection from the current 130 000 new infections to less than 50 000 per year by 2020,” said Mugurungi.

“What it means is we would have also prevented close to 750 000 new HIV infections throughout the country and we would have invested around between US$100-US$120 million, but in terms of treatment and downstream costs, we will probably save US$2,9 billion.

“So you can see from an investment perspective, of saying where should we put our money, this is one of the high return areas in which we should be able to put our money.”

He said at community level, there were also even more benefits for partners of circumcised men and others, as it contributed to more than 75% prevention of HIV and Aids transmission to spouses.

Circumcision, Mugurungi said was also crucial in the elimination of the human papiloma virus, which affected the male organ and was the major cause of cervical cancer in women.

“This is because we know that if we circumcise all men, 60% of them are more likely to have reduced risk and if they have reduced risk, they are also less likely to transmit the disease, so that cascades to situations where even at community level, there is higher or better prevention,” he said.

Mugurungi said although the male circumcision programme had started on a slow note in 2009 in terms of uptake, the trend was slowly improving, with high hopes that the country would be able to reach its target.

“….but we are happy that in 2010, we circumcised the whole year, about 15 000, and already this year, 2013, during this previous campaign, which just happened during the holiday, we have circumcised more than 15 000.

“We are happy that we have achieved in less than six weeks what we achieved in 12 months. If that is anything to go by, we are happy to say that at least people are beginning to take it up and we will be able to circumcise more,” Mugurungi noted.

He said there was need for extensive educational campaigns to take the correct message to the people.

There are also other benefits that have for a long time been associated with circumcision, among them the prevention of genital ulcerations and general personal hygiene.

Mugurungi said studies done in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda had shown evidence that HIV infection rate among circumcised males was 60% lower than in those who were not.

Before the introduction of the male circumcision programme only a handful of private health institutions were offering the service and mostly for reasons other than as an HIV intervention measure.

In Africa, the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV remains high, with women constituting 59% of people living with HIV.

19 May 2013

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/2013/05/19/male-circumcision-could-save-zimbabwe-us3-billion/

 

MENENGAGE AFRICA TRAINING INITIATIVE: CALL FOR APPLICATIONS.

Written by Sonke Gender Justice Network

ANNOUNCEMENT

Sonke Gender Justice Network, the MenEngage Africa Network and the Women’s Health Research Unit at the University of Cape Town are proud to host the second MenEngage Africa Training Initiative course: ‘Masculinities, Leadership and Gender Justice in Sub-Saharan Africa’, to be held from 16-26 September 2013 at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. This follows the highly successful pilot course that took place in August 2012.

To apply for this training course, complete the online application at:www.menengage.org/mati2013application.

For further information, please go towww.mengage.org/mati2013course or refer to the attached document.

About the course
‘Masculinities, Leadership and Gender Justice in Sub-Saharan Africa’ is a short, intensive, ten-day residential course which seeks to expand the skills and knowledge of women and men in the Sub-Saharan Africa region to scale up work on engaging men and boys in gender equality, and build a network of leaders and gender justice advocates. In so doing, it aims to strengthen existing work on the greater involvement of men and boys in the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS, fatherhood, LGBTI rights and other issues pertaining to gender equality.

The course will incorporate a mix of thematic and skills-building sessions – covering both theoretical and practical components – as well as a site visit and daily opportunity for reflection.  Thematic sessions will address the topics mentioned above, while the skills building sessions will specifically address leadership (including youth leadership), organisational development, research methods, advocacy, resource mobilisation and monitoring and evaluation.

As part of the training, participants are expected to submit a ‘Project for Change’ proposal, which will be refined during the course and, most importantly, implemented within their respective organisations once the course is completed. The Project for Change is a project or programme that is applicable to engaging men for gender equality. It can focus on sexual and gender based violence, HIV and AIDS, sexual and reproductive health or, LGBTI rights to name a few potential thematic areas.  The project can be an existing one that needs to be expanded or strengthened, or a new initiative that must be implemented upon completion of the course. Through the implementation of the Project for Change, it is hoped that participants will be able to practically employ the additional skills and knowledge gained from this training.

To assist participants with the implementation of their Projects for Change, the course incorporates a six month Mentorship Programme. This mentorship component is a critical aspect of the training as it seeks to provide participants with ongoing support and guidance as they implement their projects at the conclusion of the training. Participants can elect their own mentor or have one appointed for them. Ultimately, certification for the MenEngage Africa Training Initiative (MATI) will be based on satisfactory implementation of the Project for Change and thorough engagement in the Mentorship Programme.

The organisers trust that this course will contribute to the strengthening of both individual and organisational capacities, and it is with great pleasure you are hereby invited to apply to attend.

Summary of the first course
From 20-30 August 2012, the first MenEngage Africa Training Initiative course ‘Masculinities, Leadership and Gender Justice in Sub-Saharan Africa’ took place at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. It brought together 23 participants (14 males and 9 females) from 13 African countries. Course content was delivered by global and regional experts and leaders in the fields of gender, human rights and social justice, for example, on topics such as ‘Why Engage Men?’ and ‘Gender, Culture, Tradition and Religion.’ Evaluations from the first course indicated that participants found the training very useful and it increased their knowledge and skills by 41 %. This is a positive outcome demonstrating that the modules on the course were effective in transferring knowledge and skills to participants on how to work with men and boys for gender equality.

Target Audience
The course is intended for gender activists, programme staff and project managers from women’s rights, children’s rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS, and LGBTI organisations, youth leaders, government officials, UN Agency representatives, donors, academics and media advocates.

Who is eligible?
The ideal candidate will:

  • Work in a field where they can influence gender justice and gender equality through their positions within non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), government, UN agencies, donors, academic institutions, faith based organisations, juridical systems or other relevant organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Have a minimum of 3-5 years work experience in gender, advocacy, human rights, social justice and/or sexual and reproductive health and rights  issues
  • Demonstrate commitment and interest in strategies and programmes aimed at engaging men for gender equality within Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Have proven and demonstrable leadership experience/skills
  • Have a basic understanding of gender issues, particularly around gender justice
  • Demonstrate an understanding, commitment and willingness to be part of an intense ten day residential course
  • Have an innovative proposal for a ‘Project for Change’, to be implemented on completion of the course
  • Have the support of their organisation for both participation in the course and implementation of their Project for Change (where applicable)
  • Hold a Bachelor’s degree in international relations, human rights, health rights, gender or other relevant fields (practical experience will be taken into account in lieu of an educational background)
  • Be fluent in English
  • Have interest/experience in running training courses

Cost
There are no registration fees. Applicants are requested to cover all travel-related costs in full. Accommodation and course costs will be covered by the hosts.

A very limited number of scholarships to cover the full cost of participation are available. The hosts encourage ALL interested parties to apply.

Application Procedure
To apply, please go to http://www.menengage.org/mati2013application to fill out the on-line application form.

Applications are to be completed by no later than 31 May 2013. Once completed, you will receive an email confirming receipt of your application. Successful candidates will be notified by no later than 1 July 2013.

For further information, kindly contact Tanya Charles at mati2@menengage.org

 

9 May 2013

http://www.maravipost.com/scope/announcements/3726-menengage-africa-training-initiative-call-for-applications.html

On May 5th, International Day of the Midwife, AAI Commends Increased Accountability to Maternal Health in Malawi.

senior chief kwataine

By Agnes Mizere

As midwives around the world celebrated the ‘International Day of the Midwife’ on Sunday, Malawian chiefs continued their daily campaign to save the lives of expectant mothers to further reduce the country’s maternal mortality rate.

Malawi’s maternal mortality rate has reduced from 675 out of 100,000 to 450 out of 100,000.

With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) rapidly approaching in 2015, the message that “the world needs midwives more than ever” is becoming more urgent including in Malawian villages.

Previously many village women were relying on Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) during labour and delivery until they were stopped from assisting them. Instead village women are being encouraged to deliver their babies in hospitals and clinics under the supervision of midwives.

Under the Presidential Initiative on Safe Motherhood and Maternal Health, Senior Chief Kwataine explained how chiefs are determined to make sure “no woman dies while giving birth” and that plans are underway for more women to graduate as community midwives to replace TBAs in different villages.

He was speaking after a sensitization meeting in Traditional Authority Mwambo’s area in Zomba where 19 traditional leaders exchanged notes on how best to tackle maternal health.

Among other things, the chiefs agreed to form village committees to target those at grass-root level and another one at T/A level. The idea was to encourage villagers to send expectant mothers to hospitals or clinics.

“If approached TBAs should tell the expectant woman to go to hospitals or clinics where there is trained personnel. The TBAs are not supposed to put their hands on any woman who is pregnant. Gone are those days, we don’t need them to deliver babies so TBAs should find another job.  We want young blood, women with a credit in MSCE to graduate as community midwives to replace TBAs in different villages,” stressed Kwataine when asked.

He emphasized the need for pregnant women to deliver safely as the main reason why the traditional leaders as owners and custodians of culture were now playing a leading role to ensure women do not die during childbirth.

According to Kwataine, the rate rose to 1120 per 100,000 some years back but with their Presidential Initiative on Safe Motherhood and Maternal Health, the messages are going down to Traditional Authorities, village heads and “those responsible for the pregnancies including their husbands.”

He also mentioned the need to stop girls under the age of 18 from getting married as statistics show them being vulnerable and facing potential complications during childbirth

5 May 2013

Source: http://www.bnltimes.com/index.php/sunday-times/headlines/national/14939-less-malawian-women-dying-during-childbirth