More efforts needed to improve maternal health, say experts
There is need to beef up efforts to promote maternal health to ensure proper welfare of women and girls so as to not only guarantee a healthy people but also the development of countries, a United Nations official has said.
Barnabas Yisa, the head of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Tanzania, was speaking during a family planning workshop in Dar-es-salaam, last week.
The three-day-workshop, organised by the UNFPA, aimed at enhancing strategic partnership for sustained media advocacy and promotion of family planning, prevention of maternal deaths and the Safeguard Young People Programme in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Yisa said expectations to have over 120 million women access family planning services by 2020 can be achieved if every country does its part.
“For UNFPA, one woman who is affected by illness or dies giving birth, that is too much so we have to ensure that this is prevented from our communities and Africa generally. We should work hard so that by 2020 much is achieved in terms of impact,” he said.
He said family planning concerns everybody and is a human rights issue that has to be respected.
“It’s very important to uphold the lives of women. Without healthy women, development can’t happen because achieving that requires the development of women too,” he added.
Adebayo Fayoyin, UNFPA regional communications adviser, said the maternal health situation in the majority of African countries requires a lot of attention, noting that challenges were still being faced in the area due to various issues at the service provision, policy and programme levels.
Fayoyin also faulted humanitarian issues, saying many countries go through crisis that greatly impact the health of girls and women. He advised governments to take the necessary steps required in addressing such matters and not using the one-size-fits-all way of dealing with issues.
Tlangelani Shilubane, the project coordinator of prevention of maternal deaths initiative in UNFPA, said the project is one that really contributes to the bigger goals of UNFPA.
She said steps are being taken to ensure that the project achieves its desired objective of ensuring good maternal health for women and girls.
“We are training health workers on how to deliver quality services, and doing capacity building and have already started with countries like Botswana, Lesotho and Malawi,” Shilubane said.
Maureen Twahirwa, the head of communications UNFPA Rwanda, said Rwanda is doing well in maternal health in comparison with some African countries.
“Family planning is still an issue, people haven’t yet embraced it well but as with maternal deaths the situation is progressing and this has been possible because of the systems and policies that have been strengthened,” Twahirwa said.
Kefilwe Kuugutsitse, adolescent, sexual and reproductive health specialist at UNFPA Botswana, said the Southeran African country is still experiencing the issue of maternal deaths mainly due to poor care at the health centres.
“The deaths are mostly between the ages of 25-35 and this is also the group with highest prevalence HIV rates,” Kuugutsitse said.
Phumzile Dlamini, UNFPA head of communications, Swaziland, also said maternal death ratio remains high in Swaziland despite the fact that most people do attend their antenatal care and ensure to deliver within health facilities.