UNFPA chief says family planning central to African women's well-being

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Ensuring availability of family planning services and their acceptability to every woman, man and to young people, would improve the health of mothers and children in Africa, besides saving health care systems unnecessary expenditure, according to Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Speaking at an event held on the sidelines of the 20th Summit of the African Union (AU) Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to reinforce the campaign on implementation of maternal health programmes, Dr. Osotimehin said better health is a goal in itself and a human right for the rich and poor as well.

Underlining health as one of the main drivers of economic growth and social cohesion, he explained that healthy people, including mothers, women and young girls, can contribute to the productivity of the whole economy and drive a country forward to prosperous and sustainable development.

He said Africa still suffered high rates of maternal deaths due to delays in taking the decision to access health services because of gender barriers and other socioeconomic factors.

Also, delay in getting to the health facilities because they are not available in rural areas, poor road networks and transportation contributed to maternal deaths in African countries.

Dr. Osotimehin, himself a physician and former health minister, mentioned delay in accessing quality health care at the facilities as another cause of maternal deaths because of lack of skilled birth attendants as well as lack of emergency obstetric and newborn care.

"Women die during pregnancy, delivery and after delivery because of bleeding, obstructed labour, high blood pressure, and infection -- sepsis. Pregnant women  and girls with HIV/AIDS are at even greater risk as their immune systems are already weak," he said.

On contraceptives, the UNFPA chief said it is vitally important, both for respecting human rights and contraceptive effectiveness, to ensure that everyone gets the right information and services.

"At this moment, we have the largest youth generation the world has ever seen and many of them live in Africa. Having such a large youth population brings opportunities, but we can only harness this great potential if we address the needs of our young people, include and empower them to become agents of change," he said.

In May 2009, African leaders launched the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA), and to date 37 countries have initiated national CARMMA programmes to intensify the fight against maternal mortality.

Hailing the involvement of First Ladies in their respective countries to advance the cause of the campaign, Dr. Osotimehin said that UNFPA looks up to policy makers, parliamentarians, opinion leaders and communities to help advance the issue of reducing maternal mortality in Africa.

Meanwhile, AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said the Commission would continue to hold member states accountable to the commitments they have undertaken to improve the health and well-being of women and children in Africa.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 28Jan2013

28 يناير 2013 08:24:04

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