A group of leading health experts have highlighted a number of key issues in reducing maternal, neonatal and infant mortality as a means to achieving SDGs in Africa. Particularly notable was the need for improving the quality of health care provision.
The speakers were participating in a recent webinar, organised by the Aid and International Development Forum, ahead of a major event on Aid and International Development in Africa.
Approximately 500 people from 67 countries registered for the webinar and were keen to learn about the latest innovations and policy developments in maternal, neonatal and infant mortality.
Dr. Lutomia Mangala, Health Specialist - Maternal, New-born and Child Health, UNICEF noted that despite a global improvement in maternal, neonatal and infant health Sub Saharan Africa lags behind.
He explained that the Millennium Development Goals focused on access to healthcare but the primary reason that Sub Saharan Africa has not met expectations is due to the lack of quality in healthcare provision.
Dr. Lutomia highlighted a need to recognise the role of communities, health facilities and district level policies in improving access to quality healthcare. Through the combination of these strategies maternal, neonatal and infant mortality will be more effectively reduced.
John Nyamu, National Coordinator at Reproductive and Maternal Health Consortium-Kenya, agreed and highlighted the need to improve basic health provisions.
Utilising emerging technologies such as mobile technology, drones and the internet is another key aspect of improving maternal, neonatal and infant health, John Nyamu explained.
The introduction of technology such as mHealth and drones is becoming increasingly common in developing countries. John Nyamu noted the sustainability of this method as in Africa access to mobile phones is high, for example in Tanzania it is reported that 97% of people have access to a mobile phone.
The use of technology can be coupled with social support programmes to provide women with spaces for education and knowledge sharing.
Dr. Lutomia noted that the community level can often be reluctant to change and there is a critical shortage of trained healthcare workers. The incorporation of emerging technologies such as mHealth and drones into community healthcare could make significant improvements.
However, the speakers agreed that ‘context specific programme interventions’ were needed as most research into maternal, neonatal and infant health takes place in developed countries. Dr Lutomia further explained that contextualising health care policies for developing countries is likely to bring interventions that are more popular and effective.
The webinar recording will shortly be posted on the Aid & International Development Forum website and YouTube channel.
Hear from other health experts at the Aid & Development Africa Summit on February 27-28 in Nairobi.