Sh100m plan to curb maternal deaths

March 16, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – The African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) in partnership with Nakumatt Holdings has asked members of the public to donate towards a kitty aimed at fighting maternal deaths across six African countries, including Kenya, noting that the statistics were increasing.

The Fund hopes to raise Sh100 million in six months, and has already collected Sh1.2 million.

AMREF Director General Teguest Guerma said that African countries were still lagging behind in their Millennium Development Goals, and pointed out that 26 Kenyan women die every day through child birth complications, which can be prevented.

"We\’ve made progress but we are not there yet and as you know poverty and health are linked and there is a cycle between the two. So by saving women\’s lives, we are breaking the cycle and when we do this development will come," she said.

Reproductive and Child health Director at AMREF, John Nduba explained that if African countries renewed their commitment towards reducing maternal deaths and also increase funding for the same, then the statistics would decline.

He added that African states risked going back on the progress they had made so far, in the event that they did not properly fund the sector.

"If you consider that we want to reduce these deaths to less than 150 per 100,000 and Africa\’s average is at the moment quoted as 1000 deaths per 100,000 then you can do the math for yourself," he said.

"Some rich countries like South Africa would surprise you because their maternal mortality has moved from somewhere around 200 to 560 and that\’s even higher than Kenya\’s. The main reason for that is HIV," he said.

He however argued that economic and political challenges witnessed across the continent for the last 10 years coupled with other issues faced by each individual country were somewhat to blame as they had slowed down the development pace.

"These events have put a lot of pressure on government income so the investment that we should be making is not being achieved. For instance you find that African governments committed 15 percent of their recurring budget on health but on average we are still at eight percent," he said.

Nakumatt Holdings Managing Director Atul Shah explained that customers who were willing to contribute to the programme would part with Sh5 on every purchase valued at Sh500 and above.

"In the month of February, Nakumatt Ngong Road Hypermarket shoppers were the best performers donating more than Sh248,000 closely followed by shoppers at Nakumatt Westgate who donated Sh224,000 just a slot ahead of Nakumatt Likoni in Mombasa with Sh103,000," he revealed.

Alongside the fundraising bid, AMREF staff, in conjunction with Nakumatt staff, will on a bi-weekly basis be joining hands to raise awareness on maternal health by helping Nakumatt customers carry shopping to their cars.

Nakumatt spokesman Alfred Ng\’ang\’a added that the donation under the campaign \’5 bob moja maisha moja\’ would be included in the customers\’ receipt.

"If the customers accept to donate, then the Sh5 will be deducted so it\’s not automatic; a customer has to request it and he or she is at liberty to give more if they so wish," he explained.

Dr Guerma also asked other members of the private sector to join hands and partner with non-governmental organisations in order to protect women.

The money will be used to raise awareness of the increasing statistics, train birth attendants who will serve populations living in marginalised areas in the grassroots, buy vehicles to facilitate transport in such areas among other things.

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