To meet the 2030 SDG objective of less than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, Africa urgently needs to invest in health programmes. Women’s access to trained birth attendants is one measure. Photo by Ernest Ankomah for IPS
It appears that the continent will need to act quickly to address the disruptions brought on by the breakdown in prenatal and postnatal care for women and babies, as well as neonatal intensive care units, as the consequences of COVID-19 on Africa’s health sector become more apparent. The pandemic somewhat reversed the improvements in maternal mortality during the previous ten years.
In light of a recent report, the Atlas of Health Statistics 2022, which urged additional investment to stop the rising rate of maternal death throughout the continent, the continent must therefore race against time to strengthen its health sector to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the research, the biggest obstacles to achieving the SDG in the sector were insufficient programme funding and inadequate health investments.
For instance, a 2022 WHO survey of 47 African countries found that the region has a ratio of 1.55 health workers (doctors, nurses, and midwives) per 1000 people, which is under the WHO threshold density of 4.45 health workers per 1000 people needed to provide essential health services and achieve universal health coverage.
In addition, it stated that “skilled birth attendants are vital for the well-being of mothers and newborns.” It was observed that 65% of deliveries in Africa are attended by skilled health personnel, the lowest rate internationally and far below the 2030 objective of 90%. Half of all deaths in children under five are caused by newborns. To lower the under-5 mortality rate to under 25 fatalities per 1000 live births, the agenda must be expedited to reach its reduction target.
The Ghanaian government may have noticed the increase last year and started the “Zero Tolerance for Maternal Fatalities” nationwide effort to stop all pregnancy-related deaths that may be prevented.
Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), stated that the goal of the campaign is to eliminate all obstacles and unfair practices that put pregnant women and girls at greater risk for maternal mortality and encourage those with unintended pregnancies to engage in risky behaviour such as unsafe abortions.
According to Kuma-Aboagye, the campaign is essential to expedite the decrease in maternal death from 308 per 1,000 live births to 70 by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDGs). “The Ministry of Health, the GHS, and its partners are deeply concerned about the modest drop in maternal mortality in Ghana.”
“This means that for many African women, delivery remains a continuous risk, and millions of children do not live long enough to enjoy their fifth birthday,” stated WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in response to the Atlas report.
She requested that governments take notice.
Governments must drastically alter their direction, overcome the obstacles, and move more quickly toward health goals. These objectives represent the cornerstones of a healthier life and well-being for millions, not just milestones.
According to the report, by 2030, there will be 390 maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa for every 100,000 live births. This is significantly higher than the average of 13 fatalities per 100 000 live births observed in Europe in 2017 and more than five times the 2030 SDG target of less than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
It exceeds the global average of 211 by more than double. “At the current rate of decrease, Africa will need to reduce its rates by 86% from 2017 levels to meet the SDG objective, according to the analysis.
Infant mortality in the area is 72 per 1000 live births. By 2030, there will likely be 54 fatalities per 1000 live births, substantially above the reduction objective of less than 25 per 1000, based on the current 3.1% annual rate of decline.
The analysis evaluated nine SDG-related targets for health and concluded that, at the current rate, more funding is required to advance the targets more quickly. Reducing maternal mortality will be one of the most challenging goals to reach.
Dr. Omotuyi Mebawondu, a physician and the chief executive officer of Medway Health, has raised concern that sub-Saharan Africa still contributes to two-thirds of the 800 daily deaths of women from pregnancy and its consequences, despite the global decline in maternal mortality rate.
According to Mebawondu, one of the most important interventions is ensuring pregnant women have access to antenatal care, primarily to recognise danger signals early and enjoy giving birth with the help of trained birth attendants.
As a result, he has advised that looking into the employment of technology is another option to lower maternal mortality. The lack of human resources for health in sub-Saharan Africa places a heavy on governments to consider using technology to offer health interventions to groups that are difficult to reach.
Mebawondu said that this must come before sufficient internet penetration and availability, particularly in remote regions, as this technology will aid in updating and upgrading the skills of healthcare providers and educating women about pregnancy difficulties.
“Such technology must be used to compile and monitor a database of all pregnant women in underdeveloped rural areas. Technology can also be employed to improve emergency response to prevalent causes of maternal deaths, such as haemorrhage, infection, and eclampsia. He said that the most essential family planning services could also be provided using it.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network