1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. Southern Africa
  4. South Africa

SOUTHERN AFRICA: WHO urges more attention to care during pregnancies

Director General of the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) Gro Brundtland has urged African countries to pay more attention to pregnancy safety.

Speaking in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, Brundtland said African women faced the highest danger of death during pregnancy or whilst giving birth compared to all other women in the world.

According to WHO, an estimated one in 16 women in Africa will die during pregnancy or in labour. In Europe or North America this figure is estimated at one in 4,000. WHO said that most maternal deaths occurred during or shortly after delivery, a time when women were least likely to receive the health care they needed.

It said that quality health care during this time was the single most important intervention for preventing maternal and new born mortality.
It said that 63 percent of African women have access to "adequate" health care, but the utilisation rates still remained low. Reasons for this included distances from health services, high costs of medication and the multiple demands on women's time, such as being the primary care-giver and the main income earner in the family.

WHO said that when a women died her direct family and the community at large were adversely affected. Families lose her contribution to the household income and communities at large lose an important source of unpaid labour such as the cultivation of communal lands.

WHO said improving women's health care would in the long term save families and governments the costs of health care. Last year WHO used safe motherhood as the theme for World Health Day.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.