One Reason to Stand Up for African Mothers

by Gaye Agesa

Humanitarian Communications Specialist working for AMREF International.

More by this blogger | All blogs

Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifically states that motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care

While there are tremendous advances in the quality of healthcare in the recent past, maternal death during childbirth may seem to be a concern of the past.  Yet, over 177,000 women die each year from preventable, pregnancy-related complications.  According to the 2011 UN Millenium Development Goals Report, maternal mortality rate decreased by 34% between 1990 and 2008 in the developing world, with the greatest progress being achieved in North Africa and Asia.  Despite advances in reducing the maternal mortality ratio, the situation in Sub-Sahara Africa is still catastrophic as women on the continent face an adult lifetime risk of 1 in 39 dying from pregnancy-related complications.

Nhino, a 27 year old woman, lives in Fora - a village in Marsabit County in the semi-arid northern part of Kenya.  Nhino has had three children and is now carrying her fourth baby.  She recently had complications with her pregnancy and like most women in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, she has no access to a health facility in her village.  She had no choice when she began the 18 kilometre walk to the nearest health facility in Illeret, oblivious of the risk she was imposing on herself and her unborn child.  She and her husband Shata had walked for 13 kilometres when they managed to hitch a hike with a utility van that took them to Illeret health center.  She was well looked after by the trained midwife who assessed the condition and saw it necessary to seek further medical care.  The nearest hospital from Illeret, Wamba Mission Hospital was about 411 kilometers away.  AMREF Flying Doctors was called in to transport the mother to the more advanced facility.  She is now recuperating at Wamba Mission Hospital and is among the lucky women in Africa who will get to see and raise their child, thanks to organisations like AMREF that are watching out for them.

Not all women have this benefit. Pregnancy and childbirth pose a great risk to women in many regions of Africa and the maternal mortality ratio currently lags behind the Millennium Development Goal target.  AMREF asserts that the fundamental right of health care for all women should be guaranteed and sustainable measures put in place to save the lives of mothers. Most of the deaths can be prevented through education and skilled health care, which is why, AMREF has embarked on the process of training 15,000 more midwives across the continent by 2015. Trained midwives can handle complicated pregnancies and save the lives of women and their babies. 

A variety of impediments, primarily related to economic development prevent women from having adequate health care during pregnancy. The problem however, is not just one of inadequate care, but in many cases, the absence of care altogether.  The Stand up for African Mothers campaign is aimed at raising funds to train the 15,000 midwives in Africa by the year 2015.  Every woman who risks death to bring life is one reason to arise and stand up for African mothers.


Search blogs

About: Gaye Agesa

Humanitarian Communications Specialist working for AMREF International.