This Day (Lagos)

Africa: Leaders Tackle Maternal, Reproductive Health

Next week, policymakers and advocates will meet in Kampala, Uganda, to push for accelerated progress in improving maternal, sexual and reproductive health for girls and women. Convened by Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office and Women Deliver, a global advocacy organisation, this consultation will bring together parliamentarians, government ministry officials, civil society representatives and youth advocates to review regional success stories, examine lessons learned and identify priorities for future international development goals to reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health.

First Lady of Uganda, Janet Museveni, will provide official remarks at the meeting's opening session. Other prominent leaders, including Honorable Dr. Christine Ondoa, Uganda's Minister of Health, and Jotham Musinguzi, Africa Regional Director of Partners in Population and Development, will also speak during the two-day consultation. Nearly 30 parliamentarians will be in attendance.

"The participation of so many high-level African leaders at this meeting demonstrates that the health of the continent's women and girls is an urgent priority," said Musinguzi. "In the lead up to the 2015 Millennium Development Goal target date, it is more critical than ever that we work together to address the maternal and reproductive health needs in our countries and ensure that our actions make a positive and lasting change on as many lives as possible."

Since 1990, maternal mortality has decreased by 26 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. However, 39 per cent of pregnancies are still unintended, and only 17 per cent of married women of reproductive age use modern contraception. On average, 1 in 31 women in sub-Saharan Africa will die during pregnancy or childbirth. Increased access to interventions, including contraception, pre- and post-natal care and skilled healthcare workers, could help dramatically improve maternal and reproductive health across the continent.

"Africa faces unique challenges when it comes to women's health, and organizations and individuals are overcoming those challenges with equally unique solutions," said Jill Sheffield, President and Founder of Women Deliver. "This consultation will provide African policymakers and advocates with the opportunity to share their national and regional expertise to tackle some of the most pressing issues faced by girls and women."

The Africa Regional Consultation is the first of four regional meetings hosted by Women Deliver and partner organizations in 2012, with additional events to follow in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Middle East and North Africa. The conversations at these consultations are also intended to help shape the agenda for Women Deliver 2013, Women Deliver's 3rd Global Conference, which will take place 28-30 May 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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