BAMAKO, Mali – Academic, NGO, and government officials held a press conference here July 31 to spotlight their action plans to lower the country's high maternal and newborn mortality.
One of every 16 women in Africa risks death from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. In Mali, the maternal mortality ratio is 464 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births, according to Demographic and Health Survey 2006 figures, one of the highest rates in the world. Professor Amadou Dolo of the Bamako School of Medicine called that level “unacceptable.” Maternal and newborn mortality rates in Mali can only be reduced if everyone gets involved in the solution, Prof. Dolo said.
The government here has set high priority on lowering maternal mortality, and strengthening its health care system to provide the "three core strategies" for improving maternal health: access to family planning and basic reproductive health care, skilled care during delivery and access to emergency care in the event of complications. Additional efforts are still needed as Mali spends only 7% of its national budget on healthcare compared to 11% in neighboring Burkina Faso.
Fatimata Kane, National Coordinator of FCI Mali, noted that Mali's First Lady, Toure Lobbo Traore, who attended the Women Deliver Conference in London last fall, had played a major role in winning acceptance by the West and Central African First Ladies of a Vision 2010 initiative on maternal health launched in Bamako on 2001. Kane highlighted the crucial links between the development of a nation and women's health, and described the Women Deliver conference as a "major milestone in generating new action on behalf of mothers and newborns".
Prof. Dolo said mothers die in Mali because of delays in seeking care, delays in traveling to a health care facility, and delays in receiving care once there. He quoted Fred Sai, adviser to the president of Ghana on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, and chair of FCI’s board of directors: "No country sends its soldiers to war to protect a nation without ensuring that they will return safe and sound; and still the human race has women renew human resources without protecting them."
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