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A war against maternal, infant deaths

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th August 2012 09:00 AM

Health experts in the east, central and southern Africa have called for new innovation approaches to combat high maternal and infant mortality rates.

A war against maternal, infant deaths

Health experts in the east, central and southern Africa have called for new innovation approaches to combat high maternal and infant mortality rates.

By Francis Emorut in Arusha

Health experts in the east, central and southern Africa have called for new innovation approaches to combat high maternal and infant mortality rates.

According to the 2010 UN development report, over 860,000 children and 35,000 mothers died due to complications during birth in the mentioned regions that year.

“These figures are high and there should be concerted efforts by medical workers and other stakeholders to bring this down,” Dr. Olive SentumbwoMugisa, the family health and population advisor at World Health Organization (WHO) said.

She stressed the need to scale up best practices in midwifery education and practices to strengthen health systems in order to improve maternal health outcomes in the region.

Sentumbwo was speaking during the opening of the 6th Best Practices Forum at Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania on Tuesday.

The forum attracted over 200 delegates from Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and the US.

It was organized by East, Central and South Africa-Health Community (ECSA-HC).

Dr. Joao Paulo Souza, the WHO medical officer for improving maternal and prenatal health outlined ways of improving the health outcomes which he referred to as health system building blocks.

His outline featured good governance, financing, medicines and technology, human resources, information and service delivery.

The director general of ECSA-HC, Dr. Josephine Kibaru-Mbae urged member states to share the best practices so as to improve health workforce and reduce maternal and newborns deaths.

She noted that the objective of the forum was to share evidence-based practices which will be forwarded for the ministerial meeting scheduled later this year.

The meeting is intended to help governments provide quality, efficient and effective health care services to a population of over 200 million people in the region.

Maureen Norton, the senior technical advisor in family planning and reproductive health at USAID observed that healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy helps to reduce maternal and child deaths.

She asked member states to involve religious leaders, faith-based organizations and the media to educate the public about the dangers of having so many children as the majority of them will not live to their fifth year.

Norton believes that once the public is educated, there will be change of attitude, but she emphasizes the need for making contraceptives services available to the population.

Julian Henn, the director of regional health HIV/AIDS office USAID, pledged her country’s support to finance the health care systems to reduce maternal and child deaths.

The forum held under the theme: “Accelerating and Scaling up Best Practices in the ECSA region,” brought together academicians, heads and directors of health ministries and researchers in the region.

Dr. Isaac Ezati, the director of Health Services Planning and Development in the ministry of health, Prof. Wabwire Mangeni and others attended.

A war against maternal, infant deaths

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