Campaign to save African women’s lives launched
Gaborone – MamaYe, a public action campaign to save the lives of mothers and babies in Africa, was launched this past week.
The campaign was launched in five countries most affected by maternal and newborn mortality. ‑ Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Tanzania.
This is the first part of a cross-continent campaign, which will use digital and mobile phone technology to engage ordinary Africans in the most important fight of all – the battle to save mothers and babies.
MamaYe has been initiated by Evidence for Action, which is funded by the UK Department for International Development, and headed up in the five countries by African experts.
In a statement from MamaYe campaign, Ghana’s Country Director Professor Richard Adanu, who is also the Dean of the School of Public Health in Accra, said: “We all have the power and the potential to save the lives of mothers and newborns.”
He said men who support their wives to visit ante-natal clinics are helping to save lives.
“Taxi drivers who volunteer to get women to clinics in time for the birth can do the same.
Voluntarily giving blood also saves lives, by helping women who haemorrhage during childbirth,” said Adanu.
He said government officials that ensure clinics are well stocked with drugs and other essentials are nothing less than life-savers. Midwives that respond to crises in the middle of the night are maternal survival heroines.
“We can all play our part. Childbirth is not a disease.
We have known for decades what it takes to ensure the survival of women and babies in childbirth.
“But if our mothers are to survive, then the African public must also step up, take responsibility and become more involved and vigilant,” said Adanu.
He revealed that MamaYe would provide the evidence, information and tools necessary to empower Africans to demand change.
At its core, MamaYe will challenge the status quo – the fatalism of millions of Africans, young and old, who accept the deaths of mothers and babies as “natural” or “God’s will”.
MamaYe is a campaign to both educate and encourage communities to take collective and individual action for pregnant mothers among them. It will seek to overcome the ingrained belief that responsibility for maternal and newborn survival rests elsewhere: with the government the ministry professionals the UN or foreign donors.
For MamaYe, the active participation of Africans as a whole is a critical ingredient.
MamaYe believes that technology can educate, motivate and mobilise people to take direct action to respond to the maternal and newborn crisis in Africa.
By 2016, it is projected that there will be one billion mobile phones in Africa, 167 335 676 Internet users and 51 612 460 Facebook subscribers.
In Ghana, for example, mobile penetration in the country has reached a record 80 percent of the country’s population.
Reports indicate that somewhere in Africa one woman dies every minute from causes related to pregnancy and birth.
Observers say the hardest pill to swallow for even the most successful African nations is this: giving life to the continent’s next generation is one of the biggest killers’ of Africa’s women.
Analysts say more often than not it is preventable: uncontrolled bleeding, infection, poor medical care and a lack of education still sit at the very heart of this hidden crisis.
Those who survive may still suffer. For every woman who dies during childbirth, it is estimated that another 30 are injured or become sick bringing life to the world.
Africa’s poorest are the most vulnerable.
“But women themselves are not the only victims.
The children left behind are more likely to die simply because they are motherless. Too many babies also die unnecessarily. In Africa, over a million newborns die each year ‑ that is ‑ nearly four every single minute,” concluded the statement.
Facts about maternal and newborn mortality in Africa Globally, the highest rates of newborn mortality are mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In sub-Saharan Africa, the lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 16, compared with 1 in 2 800 in developed countries.
Those who survive may still suffer.
For every woman who dies during childbirth, it is estimated that another 30 are injured or become sick bringing life to the world. Every day, 444 women die in sub-Saharan Africa due to causes relating to pregnancy and childbirth.
It is reported that in Africa, over a million newborns die each year.
The newborn mortality rate is 44 deaths per 1 000 live births in Africa.