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Success on sexual and reproductive health in Africa: Ethiopia is the country that has been most successful in reducing maternal mortality

mortalityPleasing figures from the UN show that the number of teenage pregnancies has declined in almost all regions of the world between 2000-2015. South Africa is the worst hit, but there is also the rate of decline among the highest in the world.

According to the Africa Sustainable Report 2030, which has been prepared by UNDP and the African Union UN Development Program, almost two years after the global goals came into force, the number of teenage pregnancies in Africa fell by 21 percent between 2000-2015.

But the countries in sub-Saharan still have the most teenage pregnancies in the world. About 10% of all births of young women are performed between 15-19 years. The average world average is just over four percent.

Only nine African countries average less than five percent. In 25 countries, the average is about 10 percent. By comparison, it can be mentioned that the average age for childhood development in the developed world is around 1.5 percent.

The Africa Sustainable Report 2030 also shows that maternal mortality in the world has decreased by 44 percent between 1990 and 2015. In sub-Saharan Africa, it has fallen by 35 percent only since 2000, but it is still the region with the highest maternal mortality in the world. In 2000, maternal mortality was 846 deaths per 100,000 births, in 2015 it had fallen to 546 deaths per 100,000 births. (In North Africa, the global target of 70 deaths per 100,000 births has already been reached).

In sub-Saharan Africa, the risk for a woman to die in connection with childbirth is 23 times higher than for a woman in the developed world.

Ethiopia is the country that has been most successful in reducing maternal mortality. For example, young women have been offered more family planning and midwives have been strengthened in their profession through better education and skills development. Political efforts have also helped to strengthen cooperation between authorities and local health centers to improve health programs for women. In addition, it has become easier for women to have access to safe and legal abortions in Ethiopia.

Child mortality rates for children under five years have fallen by 46 percent in Ethiopia, and the number of premature births has fallen by 30 percent.

But there is still much left to do, said Eunice Kamwendo, strategic advisor at UNDP Regional Service Center for Africa. In an email to the World World, she says that the success of reducing maternity and child mortality is linked to many factors, including advanced policy work and direct action, such as extended programs for malaria vaccine, pneumonia and diarrhea.

There are still many challenges in this area. For example, we need to look at the relationship between the number of teenage pregnancies and the difficulty for many Africans to gain access to sexual enlightenment, family planning and reproductive health care, she writes and continues:

Continuing work on reducing maternal mortality, which was a real success during the Millennium Development Goals, is a priority when we move on to the sustainability goals in Agenda 2030.


OmVÄRLDEN                                                         Published: January 11, 2018

By Anna Knöfel Magnusson