First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, in her capacity as the Patron for the White Ribbon Alliance—Rwanda chapter, recently attended a meeting in the UK aimed at devising ways of curbing maternal mortality.
The meeting was hosted by Sarah Brown, the wife to British Premier, Gordon Brown.
The White Ribbon Alliance is an international coalition that advocates for safe motherhood and child health.
The main objective of the meeting that was held at 10 Downing Street, was to discuss what maternal mortality campaign activities can be achieved in the run up to the UN General Assembly and the G8 and African Union Summits scheduled to take place later this year.
Mrs Kagame, and the First Lady of Ethiopia, Azeb Mesfin, were invited to make special contributions on how leadership is working to improve maternal health in their respective countries - given that Rwanda and Ethiopia are two powerful African success stories in the maternal health arena.
In her speech, the First Lady outlined some of the approaches the country has adopted to curb the vice, including maternal death audits, accountability mechanisms that filter down to the district level (performance contracts), the mother and child health week, and performance based financing.
“An exciting result, which will be confirmed through the next Demographic Health Survey planned for this year, is that, from nine maternal deaths a day, we now have less than one death a day, 1 death every 36 hours and that is still unacceptable,” Mrs Kagame said in her remarks.
Mrs Mesfin underscored that cultural practices present serious barriers to improving maternal health in Ethiopia, but they have introduced a successful health workers’ program and health facilities have been significantly expanded from about 600 to 2,000.
The meeting agreed that in order to catch up on MDG 5, which has registered the slowest progress among all the MDGs, there is a need to unite, coordinate, intensify and deliver more to build on what has already been achieved.
MDG 5 among the Millennium Development Goals aims at improving maternal health.