WE cannot talk about African countries transitioning from developing to developed without talking about health, a key element to drive prosperity from household to national levels.
There are five key health indicators that countries around the world use to reflect on a country’s growth and development–maternal mortality is one of them. Maternal mortality is the number of women that die due to a preventable/treatable pregnancy, childbirth, or post-childbirth complication.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates approximately 830 women die each day and 99 per cent of those deaths occur in developing countries. Across Sub-Saharan Africa, every minute at least 30 pregnant women are injured during labour resulting to fistula and every two minutes a pregnant woman dies in pregnancy, childbirth, or immediately after giving birth.
According to the USAID Tanzania 2017 Maternal and Child Health Fact Sheet, showed that while Tanzania has made gains in reducing under-five mortality, progress has been slower in terms of maternal and neonatal deaths. Maternal mortality rates remain high at 556 deaths per 100,000 live births due to challenges such as inadequate quality of services, lack of access to emergency obstetric care, limited ability of women to independently access health services, and direct causes such as postpartum hemorrhage.
Neonatal deaths, which continue to comprise a significant proportion of under-five deaths, highlight the importance of responding to major cause s such as infection, asphyxia, HIV, malaria, and congenital syphilis. “While USAID has contributed to reductions in under-five mortality, progress has been slower in terms of maternal mortality (556/100,000 live births) and neonatal mortality (25/1,000 live births), as further reductions will require addressing system weaknesses that affect the quality of care,” the fact cited.
For the global health community this doesn’t strike as breaking news since collaborative efforts and resources are being channelled to address this widespread burden. For families and communities, sadly it has become an “acceptable outcome of childbirth” and a common ground for sharing tragic experiences of loss.
How can we end preventable maternal deaths in Tanzania? Uganda? Malawi? and across Sub-Saharan Africa? What types of innovations, resources, tools, and technology do developing countries need to save mothers of Africa? What is the missing piece to ensure no mother is failed just because of where she lives? On Friday, April 6, 2018, Childbirth SurvivalInternational, a trusted global grassroots organisation that has been recognised for reaching the unreached with health services and information, improving quality of care for hundreds of pregnant women in Tanzania and Uganda, will kick off a course-changing conversation to amplify CSI’s 2018 anniversary theme of One Mother, All Mothers Count: Save Mothers of Africa.
Childbirth Survival International also popularly known as CSI was founded in 2013 by two phenomenal and passionate African women leaders in health–Stella M. Mpanda and Tausi Suedi Kagasheki.
Both women have a long track record of selfless service in global health and development and their shared philosophy “access to quality basic healthcare services is a universal human right; it is a moral obligation to reach theKageraunreached with health services and information” has been fundamental in CSI’s partnerships, implementation, growth, and impact.
“When a mother is literate, healthy, economically empowered, and has access to opportunities and services, the impact is not only felt in her home but in her community as well her country.
With the daily unnecessary loss of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth, the likelihood of developing countries fully transitioning to developed countries becomes a distant goal,” said CSI co-founder Ms Tausi Kagasheki. CSI has five priority areas that are all interconnected to ensure a comprehensive approach in underserved communities. Since 2013, more than 350 pregnant women have received basic medical supplies and given birth with a skilled birth attendant, another 200 pregnant women have received life-saving medicines such as oxytocin; more than 2,000 adolescent girls 12-19 years in Tanzania and Uganda have been reached to stay in school longer, avert teenage pregnancies and HIV, and be empowered.
To accelerate saving lives of mothers, at least 30-50 licensed midwives in Tanzania have received robust professional development training to improve quality of care in health facilities and scores of communities have been educated on safe motherhood, reproductive health, family planning, value of educating girls. More than 300 women in Uganda have received free cervical cancer screening and those with suspected precancerous lesions treated for free.
CSI has managed to involve and promote active participation of men, religious and village elders in advancing access to health, education, and employment opportunities for women and girls – that is major in communities we work in and traditionally have had a rather firm perspective on role of women and girls. For CSI, these milestones are important because at the community and government level they are recognised as significant contributions. Every life saved or impacted is a major milestone.
Five years since CSI was founded, additional targeted programs have been established and they are gaining traction across sub-Saharan African countries due to their cultural sensitivity, low-cost, and high-impact interventions. Generous monetary donations from individuals, in kind contributions from the media, journalists, and businesses, plus volunteers have made CSI’s mission of reaching the unreached possible.
A mother is everything! One Mother, All Mothers Count: Save Mothers of Africa is possible and CSI leaders and staff are committed to advance the movement in collaboration with leaders and partners in the public and private sectors. To save mothers of Africa, the time is now for African leaders to change their narrative, re-position their priorities, include health in all policies, and focus on increasing investments in strengthening health infrastructure, human resource, health systems, preventative health, and relevant technology.
On April 6th in Dar es Salaam that will be the dialogue with dignitaries, invited guests, partner organisations, and confirmed keynote speaker Dr Jakaya M. Kikwete, a globally respected maternal health champion and former President. We will be joined by Ummy Mwalimu, Minister of Health and Rose Mlay, National Coordinator of White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood in Tanzania.
Ms Babbie Kabae is the Mistress of Ceremonies to guide the dialogue.