Fight against maternal and newborn deaths intensifies in Puntland
The Puntland State of Somalia is stepping up the fight against maternal and newborn births with the First Lady Dr. Hodan Said Isse taking lead in her capacity as Puntland’s Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).
The First lady, the Puntland Ministry of Health and UNFPA convened a high-level advocacy forum on the CARMMA on 19 March 2018 to rally political commitment and leadership in support of the new Acceleration Plan on Mother and Child for 2018 to 2021, and to increase public awareness about the seriousness of the problem of the maternal and neonatal death and morbidity.
Somalia has one of the highest lifetime risk of maternal deaths in the world, with women facing a one in 22 lifetime risk of maternal death. The maternal mortality ratio is estimated at 732 deaths per 100,000 live births.
In May 2009 the African Union launched the CARMMA to trigger concerted and increased action towards improving maternal and newborn health and survival across the continent. 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.
The advocacy forum in Puntland attracted high-level participation from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women Development and Family Affairs, UNFPA and other development partners, Puntland Midwifery Association, women and youth groups, media houses, education and health institutions, private sector and Somalis from the diaspora.
Speaking during the forum Dr. Isse emphasized the importance of a collective responsibility towards addressing the high maternal and neonatal mortality rates in Somalia.
“The key priority is to ensure that facilities are well-functioning, located where mothers can access them and services are being used by all women, including the most marginalized and underserved”, said the First Lady.
She said it was also important to intensify awareness raising on maternal and child health issues through community initiatives, radio and TV, social media, documentaries, and advocacy forums.
Dr. Isse also said that since the beginning of 2018, she has participated in two fundraising events, in collaboration with the Somali diaspora. “We have raised $ 90,000 for improving maternal and child health facilities in Somalia and an additional $ 190,000 in support of maternity care for Somali-Americans in Virginia and Minnesota”, said the CARMMA Goodwill Ambassador.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Abdinasir Osman Isse, provided an overview of the overall strategic progress and vision for CARMMA 2018 to 2021 and thanked the CARMMA Goodwill Ambassador and UNFPA for working tirelessly on the CARMMA initiative.
“We have achieved tangible progress in tackling maternal and neonatal mortality in Puntland State of Somalia with the support from UNFPA. For instance, we have supported life-saving emergency maternity and neonatal care facilities and outreach maternity services across Puntland. We have also supported six midwifery schools and as a result, 255 midwifery students have graduated and now work in rural areas”, said the Minister of Health.
He said the Ministry of Health is committed to implementing the new Acceleration Plan on Mother and Child Health for 2018 to 2021. “We want to ensure that every single woman has access to skilled birth attendance in Puntland State,” said Dr. Osman Isse.
Minister of Women Development and Family Affairs, Honourable Maryan Ahmed Ali also pledged support towards the CARMMA and highlighted the positive link between women’s development and maternal health.
“Increasing women’s access to resources and ensuring a wide range of opportunities such as adequate access to information, education and employment, will surely lead to a healthier and empowered society. Women’s access to health care is not a privilege, it’s a right and our ministry is committed to do its part in ensuring that women from all corners of Puntland are well informed and are empowered to seek health care,” stated Honourable Ali.
Director General of Puntland Diaspora Affairs Agency (PDAA), Omer Shere, shared various success stories of how the Somali diaspora has contributed to improving the maternal and child health situation in Puntland. “The Somali diaspora constructed health facilities, supported fistula repair surgeries and brought life-saving medical equipment, such as oxygen concentrators and incubators,” said Mr. Shere, adding: “our agency welcomes the new Acceleration Plan on Mother and Child Health. We are committed to mobilizing more resources and attract more diaspora expertise to the country.”
UNFPA Reproductive and Maternal Health Programme Specialist in Puntland Ms. Jihan Salad thanked the national leadership and dignitaries for their efforts and commitment to improving the health of Somali mothers and children in Puntland.
“In close collaboration with the CARMMA Goodwill Ambassador, the Ministry of Health and other ministries, UNFPA pledges its support to the achievement of three universal and people-centered transformative results; end preventable maternal deaths, end the unmet need for birth spacing, and end gender-based violence and harmful practices,” said Ms. Salad.