Maternal deaths decrease in southern African upper middle income countries

11 Sep 2019 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 11 SEP (NAMPA) – Upper middle countries in southern Africa have made significant strides in lowering maternal deaths since the first International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was held in Cairo, Egypt, 25 years ago.
This was said by Regional Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for East and Southern Africa Region, Julitta Onabanjo at a one-day multi-country dialogue held here on Wednesday.
Onabanjo said upper middle income countries have reduced the maternal mortality ratio (deaths per 100 000 live births) in line with the ‘promises of Cairo’ conference.
At that conference, 179 governments adopted a Programme of Action, recognising that reproductive health, women’s empowerment and gender equality were the pathway to sustainable development.
Onabanjo said Botswana, Eswatini, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Africa and Namibia have managed to reduce the risk of a woman dying because of a pregnancy or childbirth related cause.
“Today in our region, an average of 1 in 55 women face the risk of dying during their lifetime because of a pregnancy or childbirth related cause,” she said.
She emphasised that being able to plan one’s family and space births have been proven to prevent maternal deaths, while access to modern family planning use has generally increased in the past 25 years.
Onabanjo added that early and unintended teen pregnancy is a strong predictor of a girl’s limited access to information and services that would otherwise empower girls with rights and choices.
“Globally, complications during pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause of death amongst adolescent girls. However in our region second to HIV and AIDS, it is the second ranked cause of adolescent mortality,” she said.
Further Onabanjo said despite the decline in transmission of HIV, no country in the region is reported to be on track in meeting the 2020 targets for HIV prevention or achieve the 2030 goal of ending AIDS.
The 2020 targets are aimed at having 90 per cent of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy having viral suppression.
The Windhoek dialogue served as a build-up to the 25th ICPD anniversary with a high-level conference scheduled to take place on 14 to 16 November 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya.
It was attended by various representatives including young people from Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa.