"What can we do better in a more focused way?”
The Regional Maternal and Newborn Care Forum was opened by the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare in Tanzania, Dr. Seif S. Rashid. He spoke about the challenges Tanzania is facing with a high Neonatal Mortality Rate, which accounts for 40% of the Under 5 Mortality Rates. He also mentioned that Tanzania was not doing well in reducing Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) at 454/1000 LB (2010).
The key note address was given by Professor Grace Omoni, President of the Confederation of African Midwives (CONAMA), which was inaugurated at the 3rd ICM Regional Africa Conference. Omoni stressed the need for health professionals to increase their knowledge and apply relevant measures to address growing health concerns. She reminded participants that many complications in pregnancy and delivery are preventable and called on all to put theory into practice. She made an appeal for urgent action to be taken towards policy changes, cost effective interventions, and adequate supply of equipment for addressing challenges.
Similarly, Grace Miehso from USAID said that health care providers in MNCH already know of a lot of interventions to address the challenges; all we need is to apply them and ensure they are working. She raised the question: “How can we partner with ourselves to make a difference”?
The President of the Eastern, Central and Southern Africa Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ECSAOG) outlined the leading causes of maternal deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa as: Haemorrhage – 34%, hypertension – 19%, unsafe abortion – 9% and sepsis – 9% and stressed that understanding the cause of death distribution is important for program development and monitoring. Citing examples from the MNH statistics of Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya, he painted a vivid picture of the situation on the ground and as part of his concluding remarks stressed that definition of roles and responsibilities for both countries and are clearly defined and therefore the call for action is for “strong political commitment, ownership and sustainability of interventions towards universal access to SRH, creating a dynamic environment for strong support for rights-based sexual and reproductive health initiatives and involvement of the key stakeholders”.
The meeting continued with several presentations covering updates on maternal and newborn health interventions and best practices (Helping Babies Breathe (HBB) and Helping Mothers Survive (HMS) moderated by Ida Neuman of Laerdal Global Health); clinical education training initiatives and global evidence on simulation based training with examples from the region.
Report by Abigail Kyei, ICM International Midwife Advisor