By Sola Ogundipe
A KEY step that needs to beÂ urgently taken if the objective of theÂ Millennium Developemnt Goals (MDGs) on maternal mortality is to be attained in Nigeria and other developing countries by 2015 was one of lessonsÂ learned in the course ofÂ theÂ International Conference on Family Planning, held at the Speke Resort Limited, in Munyonyo, Kampala, Uganda.
The key step is that, if indeed, the MDGs are to be met,Â family planning must be restored on top of global development agenda.
With the theme: International Conference on Family Planning: Research and Best Practices, the assembly, for the umpteenth time examined and reaffirmed the importance of family planning within theÂ context of human development with a view toÂ re-committment to the vision and realisation of universal access to family planning.
Widely reputed to be the largest gathering during the last decade of professionals, experts and dedicated practitioners in the area of family planning and reproductive health, the Kampala conference further embedded voluntary family planning in within the context of as the best documented practice to reduce maternal mortality
The gathering was put together by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the United States of America, and Makerere University School of Public Health, Kampala, Uganda, the Conference was a pot pourri of leading policy-makers, researchers, academics and health professionals
Prof. Amy Tsui -, Director of Bill and Belinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive HealthÂ lamented decline in attention to family planning over the last decade.Â “Welcome back to family planning,” she enthusedÂ urging participants to take with them the message of ensuring thatÂ women do not continue to die from preventable conditions whose remedies are available to us.
But it was Ugandan First Lady,Â Mrs. Janet Museveni, while attributing the high rate of maternal mortality in Africa to inadequate health systems and poverty, urged African leaders to invest in maternal, child and family health as such gestures would yield high returns on investment for the continent in future.
â€œWe cannot just sit back and watch as our women continue to die so needlessly in pregnancy and child birth. That is the challenge we have today. If no woman should die while giving life in Africa, Nigeria, everyone must play their role.â€
Museveni who said the situation of maternal health and child survival in Africa was a cause of concern called for zero-tolerance of maternal deaths.
“For every woman who dies in pregnancy and child birth, six others survive, but with chronic debilitating injuries and chronic ill-health.
She regretted that the causes of death among women and children are well known and are largely preventable; adding that with low-cost or relatively cheap cost-effective technologies such lives could have been saved. Recalling the various commitments by various governments she, therefore, charged them to re-commit themselves to the cause of saving womanhood and, indeed, humanity. â€œNo woman should die while giving life.â€