Home NewsAfrica Africa records decrease in maternal mortality rate – WHO

Africa records decrease in maternal mortality rate – WHO

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Africa has made significant progress in ensuring better health outcomes for its people over the past decade.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, made this known in a statement to mark the World Health Day (WHD) which is celebrated every year on April 7.

The theme of the 2024 WHD is: ‘My Health, My Right’

Moeti, therefore, urged UN Member States to uphold the progress made towards fulfilling the right to health for all as agreed by nations in 1948 and enshrined in the WHO Constitution.

She said that more mothers and children are surviving today than before.

“From 2000 to 2020, the life expectancy of African women increased from 54 to 67 years; the maternal mortality ratio decreased by 33 per cent from 788 to 531 maternal deaths per 100 000 lives.

“The number of children dying before the age of five was reduced by 50 per cent from 2000 to 2017.

“Between 2011 and 2021, the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths decreased by 44 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively, across Africa, and the number of TB deaths decreased by 26 per cent,” Moeti said.

According to her, several diseases are on the verge of eradication and elimination, including polio, guinea worm disease, as well as maternal and neonatal tetanus.

“I also applaud our Member States’ efforts to accelerate progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

“They are reforming their health policies and revamping legislative and regulatory frameworks, including National Health Insurance Schemes (NHIS) and Social Health Insurance (SHI) schemes to reduce catastrophic out-of-pocket health expenditures,” she said.

According to her, several countries have started operationalising an integrated Life Stages Approach, which prioritises the health of individuals at every stage of their life and the care needed at any time.

“Health is not only a fundamental human right, but also central to peace and prosperity.

“Thus, addressing health inequities requires intentional efforts. Considerations of vulnerable groups must be assessed. Their needs ought to be purposively integrated into health programmes at all levels to accelerate progress toward UHC.

“We know that many in our region still need help with access to quality essential health services due largely to unfulfilled rights,” Moeti said.

She said it was further compounded by protracted and ongoing crises such as conflicts, climate change, food insecurity, disease outbreaks, and epidemics.

Moeti said that the number of people aged 15 and more living with HIV was still high at an estimated 24.3 million in 2021, 3.4 per cent of the total population compared to 15.6 million in 2005.

According to her, it reflects the continued transmission of HIV despite reductions in the incidence of people newly infected and the benefits of significantly expanded access to antiretrovirals.

“Disparities in the coverage of key reproductive, maternal, new-born, child, and adolescent health interventions remain significant, with the rural dweller, the poor, and those in hard-to-reach areas being the most disadvantaged.

“Furthermore, about 8 per cent of the population in the African Region is still experiencing catastrophic health expenditures,” she said.

The WHO held the first WHD in 1948, to mark WHO’s founding and is seen as an opportunity by the organisation to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health each year.

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