Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa
Africa’s high death rate among women due to childbearing is unacceptable because most of the deaths can be avoided.
Over 287,000 women die each year globally from pregnancy and delivery-related complications.
- More than half of these – a disproportionally high number – occur in Africa (165,000 or 57.5 per cent).
- Over one million children are left motherless and vulnerable due to these deaths.
- Children who have lost mothers are 10 times more likely to die prematurely than those who have not.
- Young women aged 15-20 years are twice as likely to die in childbirth as those in their twenties.
- One woman in 39 is at risk of dying from pregnancy and delivery-related complications in sub-Saharan Africa compared to 1 in 4000 in developed countries.
What UNPFA is doing about high maternal mortality
The African Union Commission initiated the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) in recognition of the daunting challenge of reducing maternal mortality in most African countries by 75 per cent compared to figures for 1990, by 2015, as recommended in Millennium Development Goal 5. The campaign is supported by UNFPA, the WHO and UNICEF.
CARMMA was officially launched in May 2009 with the aim of intensifying the implementation of the Maputo Plan of Action for the reduction of maternal mortality in the Africa region.
What is UNFPA doing to reduce the unacceptably high death rate of women from childbearing? Watch this video of Dr. Akinyele Eric Dairo, Senior Programme Officer, speaking from Tunisia.
Each country takes control
CARMMA uses policy discussions, advocacy and community social mobilization to enlist political commitment. It aims to increase resources and bring about societal change in support of maternal health. It is a country-driven undertaking. All African countries are to launch CARMMA and have a follow-up implementation plan, as well as to monitor progress.
The achievements to date
Tremendous progress has been made to date due to rising political commitment following the launch of CARMMA. In 2009, eight countries successfully launched the campaign - Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda, Nigeria, Swaziland, Ghana, Namibia and Chad. In 2010, the campaign kicked off in a further 18 countries -
Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Central Africa Republic, Uganda, Cameroon, Mauritania, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Eritrea, Angola, Togo, Benin, Congo Brazzaville and Kenya. Another 10 countries held their launch in 2011 -
Botswana, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Niger.
To date, a total of 37 out of the 46 sub-Saharan African countries have instigated CARMMA. The most recent country to launch CARMMA was South Africa in 2012.
Experiences of national launches
Driving the launches are senior political leaders (Presidents, Vice President, First Ladies and Ministers), joining hands with the UN (WHO, UNICEF, FAO, UNAIDS, UNIFEM, WFP and UNFPA), the World Bank, bilateral donors (USAID DFID), academia and civil society (IPPF, White Ribbon Alliance etc.) to mobilize the country and commit to specific actions to reduce maternal mortality in their countries.
Other major stakeholders in national launches have been parliamentarians, community and religious leaders and institutions, professional associations such as Nurses and Midwives Associations and Medical Associations, artists, the media and the private sector. In some countries, the launch of CARMMA has been used to mobilize additional domestic resources for Maternal and Newborn Health.
In many of the countries, the national champions of CARMMA or the national authorities have committed to follow-up activities to intensify the reduction of maternal mortality in their countries, such as:
• Decision to launch CARMMA in all Districts or States – e.g. Malawi, Chad, Zambia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Nigeria;
• Adoption of District Hospitals for health system strengthening in partnership with private sector – e.g. Malawi;
• Instituted Maternal Mortality monitoring indicators – e.g. Swaziland;
• Decision to use the launch of CARMMA to coincide with the Campaign to End Violence Against Women, and also to mobilize funding for Maternal Mortality Reduction through pledges – e.g. Chad;
• Decision to provide free medical services for pregnant mothers and infants – e.g Sierra Leone.