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AU Summit Meetings To Focus On Maternal, Child Health

African Union (AU) summit delegates have started arriving in Uganda for a series of meetings ahead of the 15th AU Summit, which takes place July 19-27 in the capital of Kampala, the New Vision reports (Musoke, 7/14).

The Pre-Summit on Gender will focus on maternal and child health issues, the Daily Monitor writes. “Leaders at the meeting are expected to agree that there are still challenges in reducing maternal and child deaths generally across most African countries,” according to the publication (Lirri, 7/14). The focus on child and maternal health mirrors the theme for the meeting of the AU executive council, according to an AU document (.doc).

The document notes: “Improving maternal health is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by the international community at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000. In Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG5), countries have committed to reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. … Achieving Millennium Development Goal 5 requires accelerating progress.” The document also highlights the steps the AU has taken to deal with reducing maternal and child mortality (undated).

The Daily Monitor includes quotes from Hassan Mohtashami, the deputy representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Uganda, who discusses strategies to reduce the number of maternal deaths. “Ensuring access to family planning services is one way we can reduce maternal deaths. It’s a simple calculation; the less number of pregnancies, the less chances of dying. It’s not about population control but health of the mother and having a good family planning programme all over the country,” he said. The presence of a skilled health worker during delivery is another effective way to reduce maternal deaths, Mohtashami said.

May Anyabolu, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Uganda, is interviewed about child mortality. “More needs to be done to keep children alive. These efforts [not] only require massive acceleration in the health sector but also a multi-sectoral effort as well as full commitment of the political leaders,” she said (7/14).

The New Vision reports that Africa “first ladies will meet from July 24-27 to discuss new efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS” (7/14).