Africa: Evangelicals urge political leaders to address maternal health
Published 11 July 2012
Political leaders on the African continent are being urged to save the lives of millions of mothers by improving healthcare.
The Association of African Evangelicals (AAE) has outlined its concerns in a letter to Thomas Boni Yay, President of Benin and the chairman of the African Union (AU).
The AAE urges members of the AU to make maternal healthcare an urgent priority when they meet in Ethiopia next week.
In particular, AU members are reminded of their pledge 10 years ago to allocate at least 15% of their total annual budgets to the health sector.
The AAE also highlights the wider Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to halve extreme world poverty by 2015.
MDG number 5 commits countries to improving maternal health, while goal 5 addresses the need to reduce child mortality.
The letter warns that only eight countries in Africa are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, most African countries are achieving less than 50 per cent of the gains required to reach the goals by 2015.
"Progress on achieving maternal health on MDG 5 is particularly slow," it reads.
"We call on government leaders to reaffirm their budget commitments on health spending and to take bold steps to meet the MDGs over the next three years.
"As church leaders who understand the needs of local communities we make a special call for leaders to address the needs of mothers and newborn babies to meet MDG 4 and 5."
The six AU member states to have met the 15% benchmark are Rwanda, Botswana, Niger, Malawi, Zambia, and Burkina Faso.
The countries on track to meet the MDGs by 2015 are Algeria, Cape Verde, Egypt, Eritrea, Madagascar, Rwanda, the Seychelles and Tunisia.
The AAE is being supported in its call by Micah Challenge, an international Christian movement to end poverty.
Micah Challenge has recently run campaigns addressing maternal health in Benin and Zimbabwe.
In Benin, 500 women presented the health minister with a petition calling for MDGs 4 and 5 to be met.
Amanda Jackson of Micah Challenge said: "We pray that this letter and other political actions on maternal health will have a huge impact.
"Millions of Christians are represented and we hope the African nations will respond to keep the promises that have been made. We will not let them forget."