Cote d’Ivoire joins African campaign to accelerate reduction of maternal mortality

12 July 2013

Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire)  Cote d’Ivoire became on 11th July 2013, the 40th African country to launch the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) with strong commitments from the Government as well as various key stakeholders in the initiative to make sure that “no woman dies while giving life in Cote d’Ivoire”.

Cote d’Ivoire, which records 614 deaths per 100,000 live births (DHS 2012), marked the event under the theme "Investing in maternal health for no woman to die while giving life in an emerging Cote d’Ivoire by 2020”.

The country intends primarily to: (i) Secure the political commitment and leadership at the national level; (ii) Improve the awareness of the public, opinion leaders and policy makers on the issue of women's reproductive health and rights for the promotion of safe motherhood; and (iii) Increase the availability, accessibility and use of quality maternal and neonatal health services.

The nationwide campaign was launched by First Lady Dominique Ouattara, who is much known for her humanitarian activities and involvement in children and women issues under her Foundation, Children of Africa, which activities are implemented not only in Cote d’Ivoire but also across Africa, including Gabon, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and Madagascar.

In her opening address to the jam-packed 1844-seater Palais des Congrès of Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan and over 3000 people outside the main hall, Madame Ouattara recalled that " maternal health is a matter of collective survival."

CARMMA would only succeed " through our collective commitment and the support of partners", she said, urging pregnant women to go for antenatal care, HIV screening and deliver in health centers to save their lives and those of their babies .

On a side note, Madame Ouattara laid, in June 2013, the foundation stone of a 110-bed Mother-Child hospital in Bingerville, on the outskirts of Abidjan that her Foundation and other partners are funding. It is scheduled to open in December 2014.

Speaking on behalf of the UN System, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative, Suzanne Konate Maiga, commended the Government for declaring the year 2013 as the Year of Health.

She said she was confident that the commitments the Government made would be turned into reality. The UN system will support the Government for a successful campaign and contribute to achieving Millennium Development Goal 5 ( MDG5).

The Prime Minister, Daniel Kablan Duncan, for his part, recalled the Government’s commitments on maternal and child health as inscribed in the National Development Plan 2012-2015, including an important project to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in the country by about 70% between 2013 and 2015. The 85.6 billion CFA project (USD171 million) benefits from a 38.5 billion CFA (USD77 million) contribution of the UN system.

The Minister of Health and HIV/AIDS Control, Dr. Raymonde Coffie Goudou appealed for further investment in maternal health while outlining the progress the country made to reduce maternal and infant mortality. These include free general and targeted health care (mother and child), reorganization of health services, increased availability and accessibility of quality sexual and reproductive health care.

During a break, guests were entertained with music and a short-drama by the country’s best artists on the theme of the event, with a focus on gender inequality, weak male involvement in women’s health and low use of family planning.

Apart from the commitments by the Government through the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Women, Family and Children, key stakeholders made and signed commitments for the attainment of the CARMMA objective. They include the Business Confederation -- Confédération Générale des Entreprises de Côte d’Ivoire, the associations of midwives and nurses, and the confederation of women’s sporting associations.

Launched at continental level in 2009 by the African Union with the support of UNFPA, CARMMA is a country-driven initiative meant to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015, as recommended in MDG5.

“UNFPA is working on the ground in many African countries to reduce maternal mortality. We initiated CARMMA together with the African Union because we have the technical wherewithal to speed up progress toward reducing maternal mortality on the ground.” Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director stated early this year.

Although the launch was postponed several times since 2010 due to the socio-political upheavals the country suffered, Suzanne Konate Maiga pointed out that “Cote d’Ivoire is the 40th country to launch CARMMA, certainly, but it will be among the first to pull it up!”

It is worth noting that two days prior to the event, 454,826 women aged between 19 and 40 received SMSs such as: “With Orange, UNFPA and the Ministry of Health, let’s support delivery at the maternity ward and family planning to reduce maternal mortality”.

The n ext steps include launching CARMMA in the country's 18 regions and health districts, as well as follow-up actions.