The Malawi government on Friday launched what’s called the first “African Road Map” to prevent maternal and infant death. The theme of the program is “Maternal Death is Preventable. No More Silence. Act Now!” Esperance Fundira is the UN Population Fund representative in Malawi.
“We have a lot of women who die in childbirth. And we’re talking about 6,000 women every year and 16 women dying every day due to pregnancy and childbirth. This is why the government has decided to launch this road map to reduce this maternal and neo-natal mortality and morbidity,” she says.
She says many young women die in Malawi from unsafe abortions.
“Thirty percent of girls in (between) the ages of 15 and 19 have already a child. It means lots of them are not yet developed and most of them also do abortion. It is a problem indeed,” she says.
The UNFPA official outlines what the Malawi Road Map will do.
“The road map gives clear strategies like family planning, emergency obstetric care, skilled attendance at birth, referral system and community education and empowerment interventions that have been proven to reduce maternal mortality. These strategies will be followed by all the stakeholders who work in the area of reduction of maternal and neo-natal health,” she says.
If the plan is successful, health officials say it will help Malawi reach the Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal and child deaths. Fundira says it’s a joint effort.
“First of all, the plan was developed by the Ministry of Health, the Reproductive Health Unit, with the support of UNFPA, WHO and UNICEF. For the implementation, the government will be in the driving seat and coordinating all the efforts by all the stakeholders. And the resources will come from all the donors who have committed to support the implementation of the road map,” she says.
In September of last year, 48 African countries, including Malawi, unanimously pledged their commitment to the Maputo Plan of Action. It calls for ensuring maternal health and universal access to reproductive health.