The Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) was initiated by the African Union Commission to address the challenges of maternal mortality in African countries. CARMMA was launched on 7th May 2009, during the 4th Session of the Conference of AU Ministers of Health (CAMH4) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, within the context of the Maputo Plan of Action (MPoA). The MPoA underscores the need to reduce maternal mortality and progress towards attaining the MDGs. Improvement in women’s health and accelerated reduction of maternal mortality remain top priorities for African countries. Without tackling these crises, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve objectives of the MDGs, the MPoA and the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).
During the continental launch in May 2009, only 8 member states were prioritized for national CARMMA launches. The criteria for selection included high mortality rate, low gender development indices, as well as high political commitment and presence of international development partners to support the process. To date, CARMMA has been launched in 37 member states.
At the 5th Conference of Ministers of Health in 2011, it was agreed that CARMMA be expanded to address Newborn and Child Health as mandated by the 15th Session of the Ordinary session of the AU Assembly. International policies such as the UN Global Strategy on Women and Children supported the integration of children into CARMMA, as maternal and child survival are inseparable. The key result of this has been an increased focus not only on maternal health, but also on newborn and child health.
The campaign is anchored on three main priorities –positive messaging, sharing good practices and lessons learned, and intensification of program and communication activities aimed at reducing maternal, newborn and child mortality in Africa. The campaign currently focuses on four key areas:
- Building on existing efforts, particularly best practices;
Generating and providing data on maternal and newborn deaths;
Soliciting stakeholder goodwill, increasing political commitment, and mobilizing domestic resources in support of maternal and newborn health, and
Accelerating actions to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Africa.