Providing Quality Reproductive Health in Mauritania

Mauritania is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Africa, with just 2.6 million inhabitants spread out across nearly 400,000 square miles of arid and semi-arid land. The country may not have a population problem, but it does face challenges in providing appropriate reproductive and sexual health care. The average number of children a woman has over the course of her reproductive life remains high, just under 5 children per woman, giving the country an annual growth rate of 2%.

Because settlements are spread out and many hard to reach, rural communities lack quality services. Reflecting this, the infant mortality rate is 74 per 1000 live births. Furthermore, only 8% of married women in their childbearing years use some form of contraception.

The project has four main objectives:

  • Increase appreciation and understanding by UN agencies, NGOs, government departments and health care providers of the role that demand plays in improving the quality of reproductive health services.
  • Increase understanding of the mechanisms that help women's groups articulate their reproductive rights and develop stronger collaboration with service providers.
  • Identify strengths of various partner organizations to improve the quality of reproductive health at the national level.
  • Enhance commitment and support at the national and international levels.

At the national level the following activities are being carried out:

  • National workshop to sensitize health care providers and stakeholders on reproductive health and rights.
  • Capacity building at the national level through workshops with the aim of supporting client's initiatives to access quality reproductive health services.
  • One day forum to promote the project among institutional and donor partners.

At the local level, activities include:

  • Participatory community-based education on reproductive health and rights and analyses of the role of organized local groups in promoting better reproductive health.
  • Training workshops for service providers regarding issues such as micro-insurance programmes, evaluating the quality of services, and costing of various payment schemes.
  • Training of trainers in health micro-insurance.
  • Feasibility studies examining the potential for micro-insurance schemes to increase access to quality reproductive health services.
  • Establishemet of a pool of trainers in reproductive rights and health micro-insurance.

What's NEW

The government and collaborating agencies agreed that the project will test the establishment of micro-insurance schemes as a way to increase access to reproductive health services.

Micro-insurance is viewed as a mechanism that could help to break down some the financial and social barriers that contribute to one of the country’s most serious health problems - the very high rate of maternal mortality. Reproductive health will be emphasized as community groups undertake feasibility studies to determine how the system should be set up. The National Reproductive Health Care Programme is spearheading the approach, ensuring that the organization of demand for improved quality of care maintains an emphasis on reproductive health.

The project will be piloted in Brakna, a rural area and in a peri-urban area of the capital, Nouakchatt.

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