Johannesburg – The African Region accounted for 66% of the 303,000 maternal deaths recorded globally in 2017.
To address this situation, WHO, in collaboration with UNFPA, UNICEF and partners, is supporting Member States to ensure that all women and girls have access to timely and quality health services, especially during pregnancy, childbirth and after childbirth, without leaving anyone behind.
Most maternal deaths in the Region are attributable to five main causes: haemorrhage, pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders, unsafe abortion, infection and obstructed labor. Of these, complications of haemorrhage and hypertension account for almost 50% of deaths,” said Dr Owen Kaluwa, WHO Representative in South Africa.
In addition, unsafe abortion is responsible for 16% of all maternal deaths, with variations from country to country depending on the level of restrictions on abortion.
One of the main roles of WHO/AFRO is to produce, disseminate and monitor the implementation of global guidelines and standards adapted to the regional context.
In this context, WHO/AFRO is developing the Accelerated Regional Action Plan to end all preventable maternal mortality due to postpartum haemorrhage and pre-eclampsia/eclampsia. In addition, WHO/AFRO is updating the 2012 Regional Agenda for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), a strategic document aimed at ensuring universal access to effective and quality SRHR services proven in using the most effective and appropriate delivery systems.
“One thing we need to look at is the skills of our health workers. People need to know how to repair a simple episiotomy wound and many other lacerations. We need to ensure that we have competent and aware clinicians,” said Dr Manala Makua, Chief Director of Women’s, Maternal and Reproductive Health at South Africa’s National Department of Health.
From April 27-29, 2022, a meeting was held in Johannesburg, where these three strategic documents were presented and discussed with representatives of 15 Member States, UNFPA, UNICEF, Sida and SRHR partners in namely professional associations, the Population Council, members of the WHO/AFRO Regional Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Technical Advisory Group (RMNCAH-TAG).
The objective of the meeting was to reach consensus on the SRHR Agenda and the RAPA and to discuss the effective implementation of WHO guidelines on abortion care in countries in accordance with national legislation.
“I am privileged to say that we are gradually seeing world leaders engage and join hands in responding to the SRHR agenda. Make sure you use this opportunity to the fullest,” Dr Manala Makua told participants, emphasizing innovation and thinking about ways to accelerate and rethink action for sexual and reproductive health and rights for women. African populations.
Richard Delate, SRH/HIV Program Specialist, United Nations Population Fund for the East and Regional Office for Southern Africa, also advised the participants.
“As we consider issues around sexual and reproductive health and rights over the next few days, let us also consider that the gains we make do not just depend on the health system, but require that we put the foreground the rights dimension of sexual and reproductive health.” he said.
Dr. Christina Sadia, member of WHO/AFRO RMNCAH-TAG participated in the meeting.
“I think structural barriers contribute to a lot of the issues we see. And issues of disparity and equity need to be addressed. As we talk about leaving no one behind, we need to have a broad package so that our universal coverage and acceleration of our fast-track plans can then come to fruition and hopefully we can catch up to achieve the SDGs. she says.
Dr. Lwazi Manzi, Head of the African Union (AU) Commission Secretariat on Covid-19 was present. She was really excited to be part of the meeting.
“It is an immense privilege to participate in this timely conference which puts the issue of sexual and reproductive health services at the top of the regional agenda. As part of his Covid-19 Championship, President Cyril Ramaphosa tabled a report to the AU on strategies to address attrition of SRHR services during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a secretariat, we are delighted that we are not only aligned with partners like the WHO, but that the Covid-19 commission is in a strategic position to keep the agenda alive at the highest level of political structures in the world. AU. We look forward to continuing to foster respectful partnerships as we are called upon by the new public health order in Africa. she declared.
The recommendations of the meeting will help address maternal mortality in the African Region so that no woman dies in childbirth and no violence against women and girls is tolerated on the continent.