Maternal mortality: Africa makes slow progress

Africa makes slow progress on maternal mortality (Pix Source:

Recent developments shows that Africa as a region is making relatively slow progress with this target. This progress would have been much extensive in the absence of HIV/AIDS. The current rate of progress is not sufficient to achieve the goal by the target date.

Although, the rate of maternal mortality ratio remains high, it shows declining trends across all sub- regions (except North Africa). Democratic Republic of Congo, which is located in Central Africa, has the highest MMR of all the African countries while the MMR is lowest in North Africa, Followed by East Africa, southern, and West Africa.

50% of all maternal deaths globally are in Africa-namely, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although, the MMR has reduced in both Nigeria and Ethiopia, it needs to fall at a much faster rate for the anticipated change.

A key intervention for reducing maternal death is to increase the number of skilled health personnel who attend to births. At the country levels there are positive signs that countries are beginning to take actions. Nigeria for example has expanded its National Midwifery program and in 2010, it assigned 2,810 midwives to rural areas. At the continental level, the African Union is provided much-needed political leadership. In May 2009, it launched its campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa. This campaign is to be launched in the 53 AU member countries but has only been launched in 9.

It is expedient for stakeholders, national leaders and development partners to coalesce efforts to reduce the burden of maternal mortality on the continent.

Summary of the ‘Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals MDG Report 2010′ on MDG5 by Ayodele Doyinsola, edited by Biodun Awosusi.


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