The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has called for more media support in promoting and improving maternal health.
UNFPA officials made the call during a three-day media advocacy workshop that kicked off on Thursday in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
The workshop, which attracted media and communication personnel from over 15 African countries, enhance sustained media advocacy and community mobilisation in order to influence regional and national actions on maternal health in Africa.
Dr Eric Dairo Akinyele, the regional advisor on Sexual and Reproductive Health with UNFPA, said since the media is the fourth estate, when they speak or write, the world listens, so they should use this influence to improve maternal health.
Dr Akinyele said the media had tried to report on and broadcast information that promotes maternal health, but a lot still needed to be done.
“We need to engage and work with communities and help them know what is right. Media reporting shouldn’t be only news but also ways of involving community members to mobilise them to action. People like news that not only informs but, most importantly, educates them on issues that affect them which includes those on improving maternal health,” he said.
He urged the media to educate the public on basic principles that improve maternal health such as how to prevent maternal death, avoiding pregnancy complications, among others.
Dr Akinyele said some media houses also make information on maternal health ‘too technical’ and called for the information to be packaged in a way that helps the understanding of the lay man.
Dr Wifred Ochan, of UNFPA Uganda, called upon the media to work hand-in-hand with other health development partners and governments in improving maternal health.
He said sometimes governments make promises and commitments for improving maternal health, but never implement them, saying the media should remind governments.
“It’s the media’s role to make governments accountable to the commitments they make to improve maternal health. Once the media makes advocacy, most times governments act,” Dr Ochan said.
Maternal & infant mortality in Rwanda
> Maternal Mortality rate in dropped from 750 (DHS: 2005) to 540 in year 2008 and to 383 according to Health Management Information System (HMIS: 2010).
> Deliveries attended by skilled Health Workers increased from 38 percent in 2005 (DHS) to 52 per cent in 2007 (DHS 2007) and 63.5 per cent in 2010 (HMIS).
> The percentage of women using modern contraceptive methods impressively increased from 10 to 27 per cent in 3 years -from 2004 to 2007- (Interim DHS, 2007-08) and to 45 percent (HMIS:2010).
> Total fertility rate decreased from 6.1 to 5.5 between 2005 and 2007. (IDHS, 2007-08).
> From 2000 to 2007, infant mortality rate decreased by almost half from 107 to 62 deaths per 1,000 live births. (IDHS, 2007-08). HIV prevalence rate in Rwanda is 3 per cent (2005 - in the general population aged 15-49). (IDHS, 2007-08).
> Rwanda also hit the MDG target on child mortality, reducing child mortality rates in the country from 156 deaths per 1,000 children to 54 deaths per 1,000 children born annually, reflecting a two-thirds decline, according to a report from Unicef.
> More than 69 per cent of pregnant women in Rwanda deliver from health facilities.