Campaigners seek urgent steps to save 11m African women

Kampala- Uganda (PANA) -- Civil society campaigners attending the African Union S ummit in Kampala, Uganda, have called for an investment of US$32 billion to help improve the status of African women.
The campaigners said in the next five years, 11 million African women and childr en could be saved by creating near-universal availability of key life-saving interventions.
The group, which includes the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health that is campaigning for the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are seeking new investments in stopping the deaths of women and children, which is the main issue slated for discussion by the African leaders.
In a report entitled 'Countdown to 2015 Decade Report (2000-2010)', the campaign network, made of UN agencies and independent research institutions involved in the fight against maternal deaths, outlines several str ategies needed to end these deaths.
They called for interventions in the antenatal care, emergency care at the time of birth, post-natal care, treatment of childhood illnesses, and immunization, among others.
These investments, they said, will cost an additional US$32 billion, or about US $8 per person per year over the next five years.
This would allow 95 percent population coverage.
This achievement would bring most African countries in line with MDGs 4 and 5, w hich call for reducing the number of deaths among children under 5 by two thirds, and reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters by 2015.
Africa, with 11 percent of the world's population, accounts for more than half o f its maternal and child deaths, 85 percent of malaria cases and 72 percent of HIV/AIDS related deaths.
The continent also has the world's lowest average life expectancy, experiences t he highest proportional yearly increases in communicable diseases, and faces an ever-growing burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, canc er and heart disease.
Countdown to 2015, a global scientific and advocacy movement, tracks progress in maternal and children health in 68 high-burden countries, where more than 95% of all maternal and child deaths occur.
In its 2010 report, Countdown found that 49 out of the 68 high burden countries are not on track to meet MDG 4 on child health.
Thirty-nine of the 49 countries that are not on track to reach MDG 4 are in Sub- Saharan Africa, and that progress has not been sufficient to meet MDG 5, again particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
''Africa's ministers of health need tools to help them make the case for more sp ending,'' said Modou Diagne Fada, Minister of Health of Senegal.
''Yet more money and better use of the money is needed to further impro ve health outcomes of our population, especially that of women and children.
" The focus on the health of women and children by the African leaders is also gai ning impetus beyond Africa.
With only five years left to achieve the MDGs, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in April announced the development of a Joint Action Plan to intensify the global effort to improve the health of women and ch ildren.
The Action Plan will be launched at the MDG Review Summit in September.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Mrs.
Asha-Rose Migiro, who addressed the African Uni on Summit, said that the Joint Action Plan relied on collaboration and optimal contributions from all stakeholders, and proposes acco untability to ensure that commitments are delivered.
"African leaders have recognized that the health of women and children is essent ial to the health of a nation, and that investing in women and children's health makes good economic sense.
The emphasis of this year's AU Summit also rec ognizes that health and development are inextricably linked," she said.

26 july 2010 11:44:00

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