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Kenya hails Commonwealth initiative to enhance capacity of midwifery

19 December 2011
Scaling up of midwifery educators’ training will drastically improve maternal and neonatal health in Sub-Saharan Africa – Kenya Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka

Kenyan Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka has hailed the Commonwealth’s initiative to enhance the capacity of midwifery, saying it was critical to meeting key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on preventing childbirth deaths.

“MDGs 4 and 5 remain top agendas on which a lot remains to be done towards reducing maternal and child mortality rates in East, Central and Southern Africa,” Mr Musyoka told a forum, co-convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) in the Kenyan capital Nairobi last week.

Some 25 university lecturers and policy-makers in midwifery, drawn from 10 countries, attended the forum. ECSA-HC has been a Secretariat partner since 1974 and has played a pioneering role in lifting the capacity of midwives in Africa.

“A scaling up of the training of midwifery tutors to enable expectant mothers to give birth safely will add fresh impetus towards the achievement of these goals,” Mr Musyoka said, praising the Commonwealth for its heightened advocacy role and capacity-building on Africa’s behalf.

Speaking at the same forum, a senior Secretariat official reiterated that the association was committed to high-level advocacy to ensure progress was made in meeting MDGs 4 and 5.

“Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has personally led this advocacy, bringing this important matter to the attention of the G20. The Commonwealth and Africa are joined at the hip and we see ourselves as Africa’s partner in delivering growth and development,” said Manoah Esipisu, Acting Director for Communications and Public Affairs at the Secretariat.

Mr Musyoka noted the probability that women in Sub-Saharan Africa would die from maternal causes was estimated at 1 in every 300, while in developed nations it stood at 1 in 4,300.

“This number in regard to our region is unacceptable and reason enough for urgent intervention (such as this one by the Commonwealth and its partners),” Mr Musyoka said.

ECSA-HC official Joyce Kamdonyo thanked the Secretariat for its support of more than three decades, citing as a highlight the fact that universities had now developed Masters degree programmes in midwifery and women’s health.

Secretariat official Julius Kaberere, also speaking at the event, emphasised the Secretariat’s role as a trusted partner in development.

“We support member countries to prevent or resolve conflicts, strengthen democracy, the rule of law, and achieve greater respect for human rights and achievement of MDGs,” said Mr Kaberere, Adviser in the Technical Co-operation and Strategic Response Group.

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