Maputo Plan of Action to curb maternal deaths in Africa
In September 2006, ministers of health and delegates from 48 African countries met in Maputo, Mozambique where they agreed unanimously that the right to health is under serious threat in Africa, and that poor sexual and reproductive health is a leading killer.
To address this problem, they adopted a Plan of action to ensure universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services on the continent. The Plan recommends a number of measures, among them the following:
- integrating HIV/AIDS services into sexual and reproductive health and rights;
- promoting family planning as a crucial factor in attaining the Millennium Development Goals;
- supporting the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents and young people as a key SRH component;
- addressing unsafe abortions through family planning;
- delivering quality and affordable health services to promote safe motherhood, child survival, and maternal, newborn and child health;
- adopting strategies that would ensure reproductive health commodity security.
In her address at the conference, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, said, “Sexual and reproductive health is a human right, and denying any human being access to this right, including young people, is a challenge to their humanity."
Most Africans lack access to essential helath services
Two in three Africans have no access to essential services such as family planning, maternal health care, and HIV prevention and treatment. As a result, some 700 African women die each day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal death ratios in Africa are estimated to be between 500 and 1500 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 5 to 10 in developed countries.
And yet the picture emerging from Africa is not entirely bleak. The causes of maternal death and morbidity are well known and are mostly preventable and treatable. Progress, according to Ms. Obaid, was being made in various areas of sexual and reproductive health in Africa, including in the reduction in HIV infection rates, increased availability of reproductive health commodities, and the reduction in maternal deaths.
At current rate, MDGs won't be achieved
She cautioned, however, that at the current rate of progress, Africa would not achieve its goals. “We are aware that the real difference will be made at country level and in communities,” she said, “when health clinics and hospitals are staffed with professionals who provide quality care and are equipped with the necessary drugs and supplies.”
She urged participants at the Maputo conference to breathe life into the Africa Policy Framework for the Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services by ensuring that adequate resources were generated and re-allocated to sexual and reproductive health.
The Framework, developed by the African Union in collaboration with UNFPA and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, was adopted at the Second Session of the African Union Conference of Ministers of Health in Gaborone, Botswana, in 2005. The Maputo Plan of Action was designed to put the Framework into action.
Read the full report.