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UNFPA inks deal to improve health of African women, children

24 October 2014, 08:08

Nairobi - The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) on Thursday expressed its commitment to a partnership with Amref Health Africa, a Kenya-based NGO, to improve the health of women and children in Africa.

UNFPA Chief of Sexual and Reproductive Health Laura Laski stressed the importance of providing health services at community level if Africa is to reduce maternal and child mortality.

"Working with governments, other UN agencies and partners around the world, UNFPA has helped to reduce maternal death by nearly half and the deaths of children by more than 40 percent in the last two decades," Laski said in Nairobi after signing a MoU that makes Amref Health Africa an implementing partner for UNFPA in Africa.

She noted that Amref Health Africa had been working in Africa for more than 50 years, training health workers and improving community access to affordable health services, making the organisation an ideal partner.

The MOU focuses on pre-service and in-service training of midwives and other health workers, promotion of reproductive and sexual health rights, family planning and adolescent and youth- friendly services.

The two institutions will also collaborate to evaluate programs and carry out research to find appropriate and sustainable solutions to address the challenges faced in delivering women and children's health in Africa.

Also read: Diabetes causes more heart disease in women

Despite concerted efforts by governments in collaboration with institutions like Amref Health Africa and UNFPA, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest maternal mortality ratio: 510 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, or 162,000 maternal deaths a year.

"Mothers are the heart of communities. They hold families, communities and entire nations together. We must continue to ensure that they are well taken care of as they go through the important process of bringing new life into the world, and their children survive and thrive for the prosperity of future generations," said Teguest Guerma, Amref Health Africa Director General.

She emphasized that high maternal mortality in Africa is an unfinished agenda of the Millennium Development Goals, and one of the critical issues that will be discussed at the Amref Health Africa International Conference to be held in Nairobi from Nov. 24- 26.

"Using research and evidence to inform Africa's health development priorities and actions is the theme of the conference, and it is also a key element of this MoU," noted Guerma.

The two institutions are also organising a master training of midwifery trainers to strengthen teaching and mentorship skills, a key gap in midwifery education in sub-Saharan Africa. Over 30 midwifery trainers and clinical instructors from seven Anglophone African countries are currently undergoing this training.

 - Xinhua

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