12 December 2012

Cameroon: Maternal mortality preoccupies stakeholders

World professionals are meeting in Yaounde to set up a Community of Practice (CoP).

Maternal mortality has become a cause for concern in the world. Statistics from United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) say a woman dies from complications in childbirth every minute, making about 529,000 deaths each year; the vast majority of them in developing countries. Almost half of births in developing countries take place without a skilled attendant. At least 20 per cent of the burden of disease in children below the age of five is related to poor maternal health and nutrition, as well as quality of care at delivery and during the new-born period.

This gloomy picture hovered in the minds of several health professionals, policy makers and research institutions from several African, European, American and Asian countries as they started meeting in Yaounde on December 11, 2012 for a three-day workshop to launch the Human Resources for Health Community of Practice Sub-Pillar for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Workers (HRH RMNCHW CoP). Highlights include the presentation of results of studies on midwifery practices as well as reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health workers in Africa.

Opening the three-day workshop on Tuesday December 11, 2012, the Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Cameroon, Alain Sibenaler, told participants to join their efforts and exchange practices on issues that directly pertain to having care and adequate access to health services to reduce maternal and child mortality. "We expect your exchange to improve on care of the mother and the child for a world where every pregnancy is desired and every birth is without danger," he said.

Commenting on Cameroon's efforts to fight maternal mortality that has increased to 782 women per 100,000 live births compared to 669 in 2004 and 430 in 1998, Alain Sibenaler lauded Cameroon government's measures to reopen midwifery schools in the country.

The participants are expected to set up the CoP's governance structure, regulatory framework and adopt the 2013 action plan. The meeting is co-organised by a consortium of health agencies such as the World Health Organisation, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women, the Global Health Workforce Alliance and the International Confederation of Midwives with the support of a French grant under the Muskoka Initiative.

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