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UNFPA, MTN Foundation Mitigate Maternal Mortality 

By Leocadia Bongben

The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, and the MTN Foundation, have joined efforts to reduce maternal mortality in Cameroon.

It is in this light that the two institutions donated special equipment consisting of delivery beds, tables for medical examination, incubators, medication trolleys, anatomic female genital organ dummies, complete human skeletons to a private school of midwifery in Garoua.

During the handover ceremony presided over by the Senior Divisional Officer of Benue, Mamoudou Haman, in Garoua on April 16, MTN Foundation Board of Trustees member, Princess Rabiatou Njoya and the UNFPA representative, Dr. Barbara Sow, recalled the alarming state of maternal mortality in Cameroon.

It is no longer news that, averagely, 7,000 maternal deaths are recorded in Cameroon each year, notably due to insufficient care.
“A woman dies every two hours in Cameroon due to complications related to pregnancy or difficult delivery. Being 12 women; yes, 12 young Cameroonians, that we lose every day just because they wanted to give birth! Some of these deaths could have been avoided if all pregnancies were adequately followed up and all deliveries secured”, Rabiatou said.

Such an alarming rate of maternal mortality has been attributed to the fact that Cameroon, among other reasons,“faces acute shortage of qualified professionals in obstetrical care to ensure appropriate pregnancy follow-up. As a consequence of the Structural Adjustment Plans, Cameroon had only 1,129 qualified midwives in 2011.

Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organisation standards, 5,400 midwives are probably needed to take care, under convenient conditions, of the million deliveries registered in our hospitals each year,”Rabiatou and Sow stressed.

Rabiatou regretted that 71 percent of women in the North still give birth at home, without getting the most elementary treatment as, averagely,there are only three health centres that provide Emergency Neonatal and Obstetrical Care for 500,000 inhabitants. Meanwhile, WHO indicates that, at least, five of such centres are required for 500,000 inhabitants.

She said, within the MTN Foundation/UNFPA partnership, maternities would be refurbished and equipped, with Guider among the towns to be benefit from the programme.

For her part, the UNFPA representative, Dr. Barbara Sow maintained that the FCFA 75,000,000 provided by the MTN Foundation helped to equip the laboratories in the training centres of Bamenda, Garoua and Yaounde in line with the national norms.

She urged the students and teachers to make use of the material to provide better care to women and children.

Sow hailed the partnership with MTN Foundation, hoping that it would contribute for women to stop dying, while giving life.
This is not the first time the MTN Foundation and UNFPA are coming together; last year,they launched their first joint campaign to treat obstetrical fistulas and the results were positive.

This paved the way to the consolidation of the innovative partnership established to contribute towards the attainment by Cameroon of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs,notably the 5thGoal on the reduction of maternal mortality.

It should be recalled that during this first campaign, over a hundred women, rejected by their families and communities because they had obstetrical fistulas, were successfully operated upon and they regained their health and dignity with about 60 of them now taking care of themselves and carrying out income generating activities.

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