(Photo: Amref Health Africa/Boniface Mwingi)
October 5, 2015 – Amref Health Africa, in partnership with its donors and sponsors, will invest an additional US $2.4million in maternal and child health programs, specifically to train 8,000 additional midwives to update their skills in saving the lives of mothers and newborns in eight countries across Africa over the next three years. This additional training will enable Amref Health Africa to reach, per year, four million women of reproductive age and assist in the delivery and care of 800,000 newborns.
Every year in sub-Saharan Africa, almost 200,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. One in 39 women in sub-Saharan Africa is at risk of dying of pregnancy related complications, compared to one in 4,300 in developed countries.
“The unacceptably high incidence of maternal death in sub-Saharan Africa can largely be prevented through basic emergency medical care provided by trained and skilled midwives. Unfortunately Africa has a critical shortage of midwives, both in numbers and competencies. The majority of midwives in Africa has only received basic training and requires upgrading or further training to meet global standards for midwifery. Amref Health Africa, through our Stand Up for African Mothers campaign has prioritized training of midwives as one of the key strategies to reduce deaths of mothers and newborns in the countries with the highest maternal deaths in Africa,” Dr Githinji Gitahi, Nairobi-based Amref Health Africa global CEO.
Dr Gitahi attended the launch event of Every Woman Every Child in New York during the United Nations General Assembly week. Here the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “announced $25 billion in initial commitments spanning five years to help end preventable deaths of women, children and adolescents, and ensure their health and well-being.”
Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010, “Every Woman Every Child is an unprecedented global movement that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world. The movement puts into action the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which presents a roadmap on how to enhance financing, strengthen policy and improve service on the ground for the most vulnerable women and children.”
To mark its commitment to Every Woman Every Child, Amref Health Africa will train these additional 8,000 midwives across eight African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Senegal, Malawi and Zambia. This initiative will contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the Proposed Goal 3, which seeks to “increase substantially health financing and the recruitment, development and training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries.”
Midwives save lives. It is estimated that a midwife can assist at least 500 women during childbirth per year and deliver a minimum of 100 babies. They encourage pregnant women to undergo at least four antenatal visits, administer preventative medication (anti-malaria, deworming etc.), educate women about family planning, assist with the birth and follow-up and can respond or refer in complicated labor emergencies. Statistics reflect much lower maternal mortality rates when women are attended by skilled health workers.
So far in our earlier commitment to Every Woman Every Child, Amref Health Africa has trained over 7,000 midwives in 13 countries in Africa. This means we have reached close to 4 million women annually with lifesaving maternal health services and delivered up to 700,000 healthy babies per year.