New UN partnership seeks to promote reproductive health in Africa
The United Nations has teamed up with the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) to promote universal access to reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing mainly on young mothers.
The partnership between the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and MVP will use the Project’s primary health-care provision strategy and the UN agency’s expertise to promote reproductive rights and sexual and reproductive health.
The MVP initiative seeks to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline – in African countries within five years through community-led development.
Infant mortality rates are almost double among women who have children before the age of 20, compared to mothers in other age groups, a factor that makes it necessary to improve maternal and child health by providing voluntary family planning, medical supplies, training and education among younger women.
The UNFPA-MVP partnership will help local governments to provide supplies to clinics and hospitals in Millennium Village clusters. It will also identify trainers for health personnel.
“We look forward to joining forces with the Millennium Villages Project to widen the availability of sexual and reproductive health services – including family planning, skilled birth attendance, emergency obstetric care and prenatal and postnatal care – across sub-Saharan Africa,” said UNFPA’s Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.
“This partnership will go a long way in saving the lives of more mothers, and allowing more families to enjoy a life of prosperity and good health,” she added.
Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of the Earth Institute, said: “Many programmes such as those in the Millennium Villages show that scaling up primary health systems in rural and remote areas plays a decisive role in reducing child and maternal mortality.
“It is partnerships like these that will make a difference and enable us to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 in the toughest parts of Africa,” Mr. Sachs added.
MVP, a partnership between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and governments, provides a new approach to fighting poverty.
Currently covering approximately 500,000 people, the Project has shown that an integrated package of development interventions, supported by a modest financial investment, about $110 per person annually over 5 to 10 years, can facilitate the achievement of the MDGs.