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Date: Thu, 7 May 1998 10:01:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: Terence G Sibiya <tgsst10+@pitt.edu>
To: swazi-net <swazi-net@list.pitt.edu>
Subject: Africa's Infant Mortality Rate Unacceptable.
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.3.96L.980507100100.22609A-100000@unixs4.cis.pitt.edu>
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Africa's Infant Mortality Rate Unacceptable

Panafrican News Agency, 6 May 1998

HARARE, Zimbabwe (PANA) - Experts from 12 African countries have called on governments on the continent to draw up realistic and feasible reproductive health policies and provide sufficient funds for the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) reproductive health strategy for Africa.

The strategy aims to reverse Africa's current unacceptably high maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates.

This was one of the recommendations made by the reproductive health experts at the end of the first inter-country meeting on the implementation of the reproductive health strategy held at Kadoma in Zimbabwe from April 20 to 24.

Participants at the meeting included national directors and managers of reproductive health and related programmes and WHO representatives from 11 southern African countries and cape Verde.

Others were WHO reproductive health programme managers from the organisation's African regional office, now temporarily based in Harare, its headquarters in Geneva, and experts from United Nations Population Fund and the Joint UN Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS).

The meeting reviewed various aspects of reproductive health in Africa and made recommendations on how to improve the situation through the implementation of the new strategy.

The participants recommended that African countries must ensure that their reproductive health policies and other related policies are realistic and feasible, taking into consideration each country's specific needs and available resources.

The plans, they advised, should be used as bases for mobilising internal resources and for negotiations with interested donors.

African countries were also urged to strengthen their district health systems within their health sector reforms and allocate appropriate and sufficient resources for the implementation of the reproductive health strategy.

In addition, they proposed that countries should strengthen their overall health systems, ensure capacity building in all areas of reproductive health and involve the media in efforts to promote reproductive health.

Addressing participants at the close of the meeting, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Ebrahim Malick Samba, called for vigorous implementation of the newly-launched reproductive health strategy.

He pointed out that it was unacceptable that 250,000 mothers died due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth and three million children died within the first week of life in Africa each year.

This is unacceptable, he emphasised, adding that urgent action must be taken to end the situation through the implementation of the reproductive health strategy.

Countries represented at the meeting were: Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The meeting was the first in a series of four workshops organised to discuss the implementation of the WHO reproductive health strategy for the Africa region which was launched early this month.

Other workshops will be held soon in Uganda, Mali and Gabon.

Copyrigh 1998 Panafrican News Agency. All Rights Reserved.