Maternal and Child Health at the 15th African Union Summit
July 30, 2010
Photo: Georgina Goodwin
African leaders from across the continent came together to discuss the importance of maternal and child health and other issues at the 15th African Union summit
, which took place from July 19 – 27 in Kampala, Uganda. The theme of the 2010 summit, Maternal, Infant, and Child Health and Development in Africa
, was a significant opportunity for heads of state to discuss important health issues affecting women and children across Africa, including HIV and AIDS.
As part of the debate, leaders highlighted the importance of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV as a critical link to improving maternal and child health (MCH). As an important entry point for MCH services, PMTCT can help reduce maternal and infant mortality and is one of the most cost-effective methods of preventing the spread of HIV and ultimately eliminating pediatric HIV and AIDS.
At the 2010 summit, the Foundation released a one-page fact sheet
to highlight the importance of strong maternal and child health programs in eliminating pediatric HIV and AIDS and improving the health of women and children living with HIV and AIDS across Africa.
To tackle some of the challenges involved in reducing maternal and child mortality on the continent, African leaders participated in a debate on MCH issues during the ordinary session of the African Union assembly. Originally slated for two hours, the discussion on MCH extended two days and was organized by the Department of Social Affairs of the African Union and the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) – an African Union initiative recently launched in 13 member states to improve quality health services for women and children. The debate inspired many African leaders to recommit to improving maternal and child health services and support the CARMMA campaign in-country.
The CARMMA initiative aims to support and empower national governments to reduce maternal and child mortality rates by advocating for increased availability and use of integrated, cost effective MCH interventions; sharing lessons learned and successful models of reducing maternal and child mortality in Africa; and raising awareness and promoting positive messages on MCH.
The Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) also held their own series of meetings at the African Union summit where they recommitted to promoting safe motherhood, PMTCT, reproductive health, and other maternal and child health issues.
Jen Pollakusky is a Senior Public Policy Officer at the Foundation, currently based in Nairobi, Kenya.