ADDIS ABABA —Meeting at the African Union Summit, Heads of State and Government made new commitments to speed-up the reduction of maternal death and disability in the continent. Today’s commitments followed a high-level event they attended a day earlier, on reinforcing the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA). The event was organized by the African Union Commission, with the help of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
According to their agreement, African leaders committed to:
1. Redoubling efforts to improve maternal, newborn and child health to speed-up progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals;
2. Encouraging more States to launch CARMMA and urging all countries to seek new ways of channeling additional human, financial, domestic and external resources for maternal and child health;
3. Expanding access to family planning and other reproductive health services as well as reducing the huge unmet need for contraception;
4. Strengthening health systems and ensuring the availability of life-saving commodities to support universal access to high-impact health interventions, especially those under Every Woman, Every Child, the global strategy on health;
5. Investing in human resources for health, building skilled and motivated workforces, including midwives, to increase access to skilled birth attendance and strengthen emergency referrals for complicated deliveries.
The African leaders stated that they made these commitments given the urgency to intensify efforts to strengthen health systems to improve access to essential services. They also discussed innovative and best practices to improve maternal and child health. There is the need to hold an international conference on maternal health this year, they also agreed.
The leaders acknowledged progress made in maternal and child health, including the 41 per cent reduction in the maternal death ratio and a 33 per cent cut in child death in Africa since 1990. CARMMA has already been launched in 37 countries.