The healthcare that pregnant women in the developed world take for granted – pre-natal check ups, skilled midwives, an obstetrician, an operating theatre, sterile and equipped with the right tools and treatment, should complications arise, are all great luxuries in many parts of Africa.
As a result, one in 39 women are at risk of dying in childbirth or pregnancy compared to one in every 3,800 in Europe and North America.
That’s why Amref Health Africa has launched its first global campaign: Stand Up for African Mothers.
Amref Health Africa’s Stand Up for African Mothers campaign aims to train 15,000 African midwives by 2015. Through this campaign, we already have 5,595 midwives who have completed or are currently in training. A skilled Amref Health Africa-trained midwife can care for 500 women each year.
Women in poor and remote communities, far from the nearest health services are most at risk, and young women and girls are in the most danger. In many communities, girls still marry when they are very young and contraceptive advice is poor or non-existent. Many of the worst complications in pregnancy are suffered by teenage mothers – giving birth is a physically traumatic experience for a girl whose body is still developing. For every woman that dies, a further 20 will go on to suffer injury, infection or severe complication.
The deadline set by the United Nations for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is just round the corner, yet Africa is very far from meeting many of the health-related targets. MDG 5 which aims to improve Maternal Health is way off track. Only 2% of current development aid spending is focused on maternal and child health. Yet investing in women and their health strengthens families, communities and countries. Family budgets, local productivity, and national wealth flourish where maternal health is prioritised.
“African women are at the centre of the social and economic development chain. The death of a mother while giving birth is a big setback for African society. Through the training of more midwives, Amref Health Africa is helping to deliver an immediate, sustainable solution. A healthy Africa needs healthy mothers, and African mothers need African midwives.” Dr Teguest Guerma, Director General, Amref Health Africa
Midwives are the key to preventing maternal deaths, and by training local midwives in the skills they need to provide essential antenatal and postnatal care, as well as to deal with complications in delivery, the Stand Up for African Mothers campaign will help thousands of mothers give birth safely.
"I am thrilled to be part of this very important initiative, which contributes to the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of reducing the maternal mortality in Africa. Of all the goals, this one is the most shamelessly lagging behind. Let’s work together to reverse the situation and make childbirth a matter of joy.” Global Campaign patron, Graca Machel Mandela