"Women are the backbone of African communities – they are farmers, they are business people, they are care givers"
President Joyce Banda, Malawi
One in thirty African women risks dying in childbirth, while thousands more suffer all their lives from the damaging physical and mental side-effects of giving birth. This does not have to happen - Africa has the technology and know-how to save the lives of women.
As AU Commissioner Bience Gawanas reminded us: we “don’t have to wait for someone to come and solve our problems.”
Despite myriads of global, regional and national efforts and reaffirmation of commitments towards the issue, maternal, newborn and child mortality remains a silent emergency that has not stopped crying out for help. Globally, there are 358,000 maternal deaths a year, with Africa accounting for more than half of them at 53%. The very high rate of maternal mortality and morbidity is a challenge that must be tackled individually and collectively.
In May 2009 the African Union launched the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) to trigger concerted and increased action towards improving maternal and newborn health and survival across the continent. As such, CARMMA is not a new initiative; rather, it is derived from the key priority areas enshrined in the AU Policy Framework for the promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Africa (2005) and the Maputo Plan of Action (2006).
The main objective of CARMMA is to expand the availability and use of universally accessible quality health services, including those related to sexual and reproductive health that are critical for the reduction of maternal mortality. The focus is not to develop new strategies and plans, but to ensure coordination and effective implementation of existing ones. CARMMA aims to renew and strengthen efforts to save the lives of women who should not have to die while giving life. CARMMA believes in ensuring accountability: every single loss of a mother’s or child’s life should be reported.
Activities of the campaign include mobilizing the necessary political will to make the lives of women count, coordinating and harmonizing interventions around country-led plans/roadmaps and supporting ongoing efforts and initiatives to improve maternal, newborn and child health.
Africa Cares: No woman should die while giving life!
"The MDGs cannot be achieved without a substantial reduction in maternal, infant and child mortality... We need to increase our efforts in order to turn these decisions into action and to make our aspirations become a reality."
Adv. Bience P. Gawanas, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs