NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 17 – As 2015, the year of the Millennium Development Goals fast approaches, the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) has partnered with Chase bank to help achieve the goal of improving maternal health and reducing child mortality.
Through a campaign dubbed Stand up for African Mothers, AMREF aims to train at least 15,000 midwives in the next three years across Africa.
AMREF Director General Teguest Guerma said on Thursday that they would also conduct advocacy programmes through their offices in Europe, North America and Africa on improving maternal and child health.
“You know, the time of birth is supposed to be a happy time for the family but in many families in Africa, it is a time of sadness and death,” the Amref boss said.
“And you know why these women are dying? They are dying for simple reasons like bleeding; they are dying because they have an infection, high blood pressure; they are dying because they have obstructed labour and there is no transport to take them to the health centre,” she added.
Guerma said the campaign would in the next three years focus on improving the health of women and children in line with Millennium Development Goal four and five. The MDG four aims to reduce by two thirds the under-five mortality rate by 2015.
Goal five aims to reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality rate by 2015.
The AMREF Director General noted that in Africa, at least 200,000 women die annually during pregnancy or delivery. In Kenya, 7,000 women die annually during pregnancy or child birth.
“They are also dying because we in Africa don’t have enough skilled midwives, skilled human resources to attend to these women and we can prevent this and save the lives of women in Africa,” Guerma stated.
Chase Bank General Manager Parmain ole Narikae said the bank would contribute Sh15 million each year starting this year, for the next three years towards the Stand up for African Mothers campaign.
“There could not be a better way than to partner with Amref in the standing up for African mothers initiative. That is really where the rubber meets the road because we will have a lasting impact and change through empowering mothers,” he said.
Maternal mortality in Kenya has remained unacceptably high with 488 mothers dying for every 100, 000 live births according to the United Nations Development Programme.
This is an increase from 414 per 100,000 live births in 2003.
The proportion of women receiving skilled care in Kenya during delivery is 44 percent according to the latest statistics from UNDP.
“We also want through this initiative Africans to contribute to their health development,” Guerma said.
“The time for sitting and waiting for grants and funds raised in Europe and North America is finished. We need to put something on the table ourselves and ask for matching funds from others,” she added.
The Government in August 2010 launched a Maternal and Newborn Health Road Map whose goal is to accelerate the reduction of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals set in the year 2000 by 189 nations with a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations.