Health authorities of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, three Mano River Union Countries that were badly affected by the Ebola Virus Disease between 2014 and 2015, have ended two-day (March 14-15, 2016) coordination meeting in Monrovia to assess progress achieved in the implementation of the Mano River Midwifery Response Initiative, a joint approach to defeat or reduce maternal mortality rates in the subregion.
Delegates from the three countries have been sharing their experiences in addressing early marriage and teenage pregnancy, promoting Family Planning for safe birth control, and building a resilient health system thru reduction of Maternal Mortality Rate within the Mano River Union.
United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA Country Representative to Liberia, Dr. Oluremi Sogunro , said the objective is to contribute to experience-sharing among participants from the three countries, increase understanding of the implementation of Mano River Midwifery Response or MRMR at health facility level as well as provide baseline for further maternal health system strengthening.
“It is my wish that those governments and partners who have not joined, will do so to protect our girls”, Dr. Sogunro added. Early marriage and teenage pregnancy are two key factors, among others that are responsible for high maternal mortality rate in the MRU basin.
The current exercise is a one year project being fund by the Government of Japan in collaboration with other partners. The Japanese funding elapses by 31 March. But UNFPA Family Planning Advisor for West and Central Africa with Regional Office based in Senegal, Ratsiman Etrimanana Fenaloa, said in order to sustain the program, the regional office had already engaged the Japanese to extend funding up to August this year, while a major donor conference is underway in China to mobilize more funding.
He said UNFPA Regional Office is also working with governments of the Mano River Union and partners to initiate a regional youth project under the Demography Dividend to empower young people to become self-reliant.
Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Francis Kateh, who is currently in China for the donor conference, said before departing the country Tuesday, March 15, that for a country to succeed, a woman must survive because women are the ones that God has given the ability to produce the population or manpower that every country needs to move forward with development.
“In the process of doing that, there are two things to be careful about; the first is what is good for us- best practices should be within our context, and the second aspect is sustainability. If we desire to carry on some development, we must ensure funding is available. This is something that I believe and think we can do”, he emphasized.
According to a June 30, 2015 statistics, Liberia’s current maternal mortality rate is 770 deaths per 100,000 live births, while Sierra Leone is said to have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with a maternal mortality ratio of 857 per 100 000 live births, according to the World Health Organization or W.H.O. Maternal mortality rate (MMR) is the annual number of female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management. It includes deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, for a specified year.
By Jonathan Browne