AfDB, WHO and World Bank Participate in NORAD's High-Level Conference on Maternal Health with Hillary Clinton

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Dr. Agnes Soucat, AfDB Director for Human Development, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa and Dr. Feng Zhao, AFDB Health Division Manager participated in 2 workshops organized by NORAD. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation – on the Economic Benefits of Investing in Women’s Health and the Saving Mothers Giving Lives initiative.

The workshops preceded a high level conference on global health and gender equality entitled “A World in Transition; Charting a New Path in Global Health” which brought together prominent politicians and experts in a joint effort to eliminate the tragic and preventable deaths of women, mothers and children around the world. Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre spoke at the conference followed by a keynote address by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Dr  Soucat served as a panelist in the workshop on Economic Benefits of Investing in Women’s Health chaired by Tamar Manuelyan Atinc, World Bank Vice President for Human Development and Richard Horton, Chief Editor of the Lancet. Dr  Sambo and Dr  Zhao spoke in the workshop on Saving Mothers Giving Lives.

Investing in women’s health and decreasing fertility in Africa are key to capturing the demographic dividend, reducing the intergenerational cycle of poverty and increasing women’s voice. As a leader in gender issues in Africa, the AfDB through its new Human Capital Development Strategy is stepping up its efforts to develop programs that promote women’s health and early childhood education.

In Zambia, which ranks 143 out of 172 countries for maternal mortality rates globally - nearly 3,000 women die every year. Uganda also continues to struggle with terribly high numbers of women who die from pregnancy and complications of childbirth. It is estimated that more than 6,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth every year - ranking Uganda 141 out of 172 countries globally.

The United States and Norway are working to improve maternal and child health in Africa pledging approximately $75 million each. The money will be used to help fund one of Clinton’s new priorities, a health care project called “Saving Mothers, Giving Life.” It aims to help women in various African countries while they’re pregnant, when they’re giving birth and afterwards, to help their newborns get a better start in life. Starting in Uganda and Zambia, it is focusing on helping mothers during labor, delivery, and during the first 24 hours after a birth and strengthening district health services by building clinics and labs, training staff, improving supply chains, making blood supplies safe, and improving record-keeping systems.

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