Forum for increased maternal health efforts

A high level forum of supporters of maternal, neonatal and child health has called for the doubling of efforts to end maternal and newborn deaths in the country.

This was discussed yesterday at a breakfast forum of various players drawn from the aid community, health and corporate sectors at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe.  It was c-hosted by Nation Publications Limited (NPL) and WaterAid.

Masso: It is rewarding to see more women, girls and children experience better health servicesSpeaking during the forum, WaterAid UK international programme director Olga Ghazaryan said the forum was held for delegates to “share a vision of no more women dying to give birth”, warning that there was no time for delays.

She said: “It is a shame to us all, that pregnant women and mothers today in the 21st century still face insurmountable challenges affecting their health and wellbeing leading to high maternal and neonatal mortality rates in many developing countries including Malawi.”

According to Ghazaryan, globally 830 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and child birth—99 percent of whom are from developing countries like Malawi.

Taking her turn, NPL chief executive officer (CEO) Mbumba Banda said the forum was vital to ensuring stakeholders come together and share roles in improving the plight of under privileged women and children.

Banda: We must plan and
work together

“To provide solutions to challenges in our communities and country, we must plan and work together. We, therefore, need a gathering of this nature to come to some common understanding of what needs to be done and agree on who is best placed to do what, where, to what extent and in what manner,” she said.

Ministry of Health chief of health services Dr. Charles Mwansambo said Malawians’ health remains integral to the country’s development agenda, hence; a major pillar in the Malawi Growth Development Strategy III.

He told delegates that while the country has made strides in improving health service delivery, there is more to be done.

Said Mwansambo: “We can do better than what we are doing at present. We cannot afford to sit down.”

Water Aid country director Mercy Masoo explained why the organisation, whose core mandate is to provide and advocate for access to clean water and sanitation, was engaging in safe motherhood.

“It is rewarding to see more women, girls and children experience better health services as a result of our work. On the other hand, it is saddening when safe water, improved sanitation and good hygiene is as far as we can go,” she said.

The delegates committed to make sizeable contributions to the fight against maternal and child deaths following a joint appeal fromBanda and Masoo for stakeholders to make commitments and launch new partnerships on the subject.

Other speakers at the forum included UNDP country representative Maria Jose Torres Macho and members of beneficiary communities of some NPL and WaterAid initiatives.

As part of promoting safe motherhood, NPL has for the past 13 years raised close to K300 million through its flagship annual Mothers’ Fun Run whose proceeds support maternal and child health in health facilities, according to Banda.

Water Aid, on the other hand through its last strategy (2010-25) alone, has reached over 276 000 people with access to safe water and 513 000 people with access to sanitation and improved hygiene in communities, schools and market centres, according to Masoo.

However, the forum was a call for stakeholders to explore new initiatives and make new commitments while revisiting the old ones.

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