News Article: Continent Needs Caring Leaders – Janet Museveni
New Vision (Uganda)
By Catherine Mwesigwa Kizza and Ann Mugisa
28 March 2012
Africans need to look within themselves and do their best according to their calling if Africa is to stop being a reproach among the nations of the world.
“We need leaders and medical personnel who care enough to rise and rebuild Africa.” “Our strength should come from within us, we should not expect it from the outside.”
The First Lady of Uganda , Mrs Janet Museveni made the call while opening the African Regional Consultation on MDG 5 at Kampala in Munyonyo on Tuesday.
She said the women of Uganda were not just waiting but working and needed partners to help them achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for over 90% of the global maternal deaths.
“Are these numbers of women really dying because of circumstances beyond our control or is there a reasonable degree of carelessness?” she asked in rhetoric.
Mrs Museveni noted that maternal mortality is a critical indicator of the state of our health system and the disparities between the rich and poor .
She noted that there was need for a fresh message to spur progress and urged leaders who cared to take action.
“If our health workers decided that no mother will die, we can see the same miracle we saw in Uganda with HIV”, she said.
Uganda reduced HIV prevalence from 30% in the 1990s to 6% by 2005 using a multi-disciplinary approach.
“We arose as a people, fought HIV head on and performed a miracle,” she said.
The African Regional Consultation on MDG 5 organized by Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization for maternal health in partnership with Partnership for Population and Development Africa is has brought together 150 delegates from Africa to discuss opportunities for improving maternal, sexual and reproductive health and identify barriers to meeting the needs of girls and.
Speaking at the same meeting, Dr Christine Ondoa the Minister of health said that Uganda had made progress in reducing infant mortality from 76 to 54 deaths per 1000 live births. She however, noted that preliminary results of a new survey show that maternal mortality had reduced slightly from 435 deaths to 345 deaths per 100,000 live births. She said a comprehensive survey is to be done this year to confirm these findings.
Ondoa said Uganda and Africa’s efforts to reduce maternal death were being slowed down because of weak health systems and a health human resource crisis but there were also opportunities for progress.
Jill Sheffield, the President of Women Deliver noted that though past years have shown that maternal mortality is in decline, African women were still at high risk of maternal death with one in 31 women dying in childbirth.
She underscored the importance of different stakeholders bringing different solutions to the table to look for solutions to prioritise girls and women for the development framework.
In an opening address, Janet Jackson the UNFPA Representative, highlighted as one of the opportunities, the high unmet need for Family Planning in Africa.
Citing Uganda as an example, she said the 26% Contraception Prevalence Rate and unmet need for Family Planning of 41% (UDHS 2006) meant a possible demand of Family Planning of 65%.
“Imagine how this would impact the lives of men and women. This could herald a whole range of opportunities,” she said.
In a keynote address, Jean Christoph Fotso, the head of the African Population Research Council said Africa’s target to achieving MDG 5 was a maternal mortality ratio of 217.5 deaths per 100,000 live births but by 2008 had only achieved 640 deaths per 100,000 live births.
He pointed out that to achieve the target, there was need for health sector governance and strong political will; a need to address human resources for health, infrastructure and equipment gaps.
He underscored the importance of Family Planning in the achievement of all the MDGs.
“If you get it right on Family Planning, you are heading to achieving the MDGs,” he said.