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The surge of teenage pregnancy in Delta State is worrying.

Moeti: Africa Witnesses Decline In Maternal Mortality

Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation (WHO) regional director for Africa, states that Africa has made significant progress towards ensuring better health outcomes for its people over the past decade.

She made this statement during the commemoration of World Health Day, which is celebrated annually on April 7.

Ms Moeti 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, stating 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,” Ms Moeti said.

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

“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.”

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 purposefully 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.”

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

Ms Moeti said 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, newborn, 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 eight per cent of the population in the African region is still experiencing catastrophic health expenditures.”