A matter of life and death
Why is Africa still the world’s most dangerous place to have a baby?
|No subject is off limits in the first ever global talk show hosted from Africa in which Redi Tlhabi talks frankly to inspiring and intriguing personalities from across the world.
This week on South2North Redi discusses maternal health and the impact it has on children, women and the communities in which they live.
A recent African Union report shows sub-Saharan Africa is trailing behind its 2015 Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent. Meanwhile some poor countries in Asia are en-route to achieving theirs.
So why is childbirth still such risky business in Africa? Why is Africa still the world’s most dangerous place to have a baby? What is the secret behind other countries’ success? And what does it take to give all women the luxury of looking forward to a healthy baby?
Professor Hans Rosling, the co-founder of the Gapminder foundation explains how maternal health is a key factor needed for the future development of Africa.
“Africa will be big. It’s one billion people today two, three or even four billion is foreseen by the end of the century. The question is: will Africa be three billion rich or four billion poor? That’s about providing family planning today. Remember, China got rich after it had two-child families.”
Rosling also uses a demonstration to explain the different healthcare needs of different income groups across the world.
Deliwe Nyathikazi, from the International Confederation of Midwifes, explains that women’s ability to control whether or not they get pregnant is a huge determinant for their health.
“In Africa, if we look at Sierra Leone for instance, the contraception rate there is 17 percent, compared to about 97 percent or 93 percent in Brazil, which is a huge difference. I agree completely that contraception plays a very major role in preventing unwanted pregnancies to start with, but also the spacing of the children. Because another problem when you are not having access to contraception is the spacing might not be correct, so the woman’s body does not get time to recuperate from the last child, and now she’s pregnant again.”
Sanjana Bhardwaj, the UNICEF chief of health, explains how the state of maternal health in is an important indicator of how well countries are doing.
“It’s one of those conditions that reflects a lot about a country. So it’s about your health system, of course, but it also shows how your whole fabric is organised. What is the importance of women in that country, for example? What are the social norms? What are the traditions? What’s the access to care? What’s the health-seeking behaviour? So it’s not just to say that you should have the health centres set up, and you should have doctors everywhere and it’ll all get solved. It will not, because there are multiple factors that lead to it.”