For an unbiased growth of the economy, an equal contribution of men and women is what is required. Reiterating its commitment towards the same, the Non-Aligned Movement has translated in its efforts the importance of an equal contribution from both men and women of the society.
While women contribute equally to the growth and development prospects of an economy, the issue of maternal deaths continue to remain a major crisis among several nations and Africa is one of them. The areas reflecting inequities to health services and lack of awareness among the population are more prone to the crisis. Often caused due to haemorrhage, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, infection and obstructed labour, the rates of maternal morbidity and mortality are found highest among adolescent girls below 15 years of age. Girls under this age bar face a higher risk of complications and death as compared to other women.
In its response to deal with the unacceptably high maternal mortality rate, the African Union (AU) in 2009 launched the Campaign for the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA). Placing the issue of maternal deaths firmly on its agenda, the African Union committed itself to achieve universal access to quality Maternal, Newborn and Child Health services through strengthening the implementation of the campaign. Having commenced with the slogan ‘Africa Cares: No Woman should Die while Giving Birth’, the campaign today witnesses a remarkable progress in resolving the issue, it was launched for.
Initiated as a derivation from 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 CARMMA is an initiative to trigger the concerted and increased action towards improvising the maternal and newborn health survival across the continent.
Under the guidance and leadership of the three successive Commissioners of Social Affairs, namely- H.E Bience Gawanas (2002 – 2012), H.E. Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko (2012-2016) and H.E. Amira Elfadil (2017 to present), the CARMMA campaign has mastered the maternal health and sexual and reproductive rights of the women of the African community.
With the themes for the yearly reports – 2014 “Status report on Maternal Newborn and Child Health: Challenges for Inclusive and Universal Access”, 2017 “Status report On Maternal Newborn Child and Adolescent Health: Focusing On Unfinished Business In Africa” and 2019 “Status report on the State of Health of the Mother, the Newborn, the Child and the Adolescent: Women and Children living in Humanitarian Crisis/Conflicts Contexts and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)” the programme acknowledges the progress made and recommits to reinforce action towards the desired goal.
With a vision to put health on the top priority of the continent’s agenda, African Union has witnessed a steady rise in the number of nations implementing the campaign. So far, 46 nations across the continent have implemented the campaign while 6 others are preparing for its launch. Critical to curbing the maternal mortality rate, there has been an expansion in the availability of universally accessible health services, particularly those relating to sexual and reproductive health.
After the official launch of the CARMMA, the use of policy dialogue, community mobilisation to secure political commitment and societal and behavioural changes have observed an upsurge in Africa, transitioning from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As per the new child and maternal mortality estimates revealed by United Nations groups led by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the survival rates have enhanced, more women and children are surviving today than ever before. Due to improved and expanded access to affordable and quality health services, there is an astounding decrease in the maternal deaths. Marking 10 years of the launch of the CARMMA campaign, the Union dictated its focus that remains intact on effective implementation and coordination among the existing plans and strategies.
Women are the spine of an economy like Africa. From care givers, to farmers to business people, women are the powerful spirits that need to be saved and protected, not only in Africa but all across the globe, says the Non-Aligned Movement, stressing on the need to augment efforts to make their lives count. With political will and a boost to the campaign and ongoing efforts, the initiatives aim to be the game changer in battling the issue. What is required is a more of such efforts, necessary independent will, coordination and harmonising interventions around nation-led roadmaps to bring the crisis to an end.