Renewed commitment to reduce maternal mortality on the African Continent

The Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability jointly sitting with the Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs have reiterated the PAP’s commitment to reducing maternal mortality on the African continent.

This commitment speaks directly to Sustainable Development Goal 3 that seeks to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages, by 2030.’ Target 3.1 states that by 2030, all countries should have reduced maternal mortality ratio by at least two thirds of their 2010 baseline level.

Chairperson of the Gender Committee, Hon. Lucia Mendes dos PASSOS from Cape Verde, said the PAP was aware and concerned with the high maternal mortality rate that continues unchecked and had cross-cutting effects but lamented action and political will.

“It is not helpful to have all these documents sitting in front of us; clearly spelling what we should do to reduce maternal deaths, yet we do not act. It is not acceptable to have deaths that could be avoided because we lack clear cut policies and there is ill political will to implement,” said Hon. dos Passos.

Hon. Sena ALIPUI from Togo said Africa expressed concern that the issue of maternal mortality seems to fall through the cracks.

“We have several problems that we are dealing with as a continent – security threats, poverty, wars and amongst these; is maternal mortality. We need a paradigm shift to focus and change our mindsets towards maternal health.  I am convinced that we do not lack money and it is high time we took this matter seriously,” said Hon. Alipui.

The World Health Organisation cautioned African Legislators that ‘33 years after the launch of Safe Motherhood, a pregnancy in Africa is still risky’ with the African continent contributing two thirds of all maternal deaths globally.

“African women are not dying from diseases or conditions that cannot be treated. As way back as 1987 Africa launched Safe Motherhood to deal with maternal mortality. What we need now is political will to implement commitments that have already been made,” said Dr. Nancy KIDULA of the WHO.

The joint sitting of the two Committees renewed commitment to provide political leadership as the continental legislature and hold national governments accountable. Among the priority strategic actions, Members of Parliament recommitted to advocating for sustainable health sector financing, prioritization of human resources for health and provision of adequate quality essential medicines. The WHO has also pledged its continued support towards PAP efforts in ending maternal mortality at country and regional levels.