Press Release

Somali Government and partners renew commitment to end preventable deaths of mothers and children

19 August 2014

  • Mogadishu, 19 August 2014 – The Somali Federal Government, with support of three United Nations agencies and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), today launched two important initiatives and a report to ensure the health and well-being of mothers and children.

Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed said that the launch of Somalia’s national maternal and child health acceleration plan to improve maternal and child health, alongside the campaign on accelerated reduction of maternal mortality in Africa (CARMMA) and the State of the World’s Midwifery Report 2014 represented a milestone for the women and children of the country.

"For too long we have failed to provide mothers and children with their basic rights to good health and good quality health care,” he said. “This Government is committed to ensuring that this will change. The children are the future of our nation and we must give them every possible assistance to have a good start in life."

The maternal and child health acceleration plan, which is a result of the saving the lives of mothers and children initiative launched regionally at a high-level meeting last year by WHO, UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to prioritize the health of women and children will be rolled out in several Somalia regions targeting more than a million children and women.

At the same time, the African Union’s CARMMA will employ advocacy at all levels to help Somalia progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.

The event also included the launch of the State of the World’s Midwifery Report 2014, coordinated by UNFPA and WHO which provides important data on midwifery in 73 countries including Somalia.

During the launch in Mogadishu, Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, congratulated the Somali Government for prioritizing maternal and child health: “Their sustained efforts to reduce suffering and deaths among children and women have started yielding fruits and much more is expected in the coming months with the renewed commitment and engagement that we are all taking today,” he said.

“These are important initiatives – we must now make sure they are put into action and help to ensure that we see an end to preventable maternal mortality, newborn and child deaths – creating a solid foundation for the future.” Phillipe Lazzarini, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia told the audience which included Government and UN officials, NGOs, civil society and the media.

Somalia’s health sector has been largely destroyed by more than 20 years of war and neglect which has taken its toll on the population. An estimated one in five children dies before their fifth birthday with the main causes including pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles - as well as infections and other problems in the first month of life.

CARMMA was initiated by the African Union Commission in 2009 and 44 countries in Africa have now launched it.

“The launch of CARMMA will ensure that we see a strong health system and real commitment by all the authorities to prioritizing health and strengthen reproductive and emergency obstetric care services particularly in the most difficult to reach areas,” said Cheikh Cisse, UNFPA Somalia Representative.

“For too long, Somalia has been dominated by destruction and violence,” said Oscar Butragueno, UNICEF Somalia Officer in Charge. ”It is time to give the children a chance to survive and thrive and these campaigns will help them to have the best start in life.”

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