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The Worrying State of Maternal Health in Africa

It's no secret that maternal health in Africa is in a worrying state, but a closer look at the statistics reveal just how utterly distressing it is. According to the World Health Organization, over 300,000 women die each year from preventable complications during pregnancy and childbirth. That's one woman every two minutes.


Shockingly, women in Africa account for 57% of all maternal deaths worldwide. This is despite the fact that African women only make up about 14% of the world's population of reproductive-age women. 


There are many factors contributing to the high rates of maternal mortality on the continent, including lack of skilled birth attendants, inadequate facilities and infrastructure, and limited access to quality healthcare. 


However, there are also initiatives making a difference to maternal health in Africa, including community-based programs that are working towards giving more women access to lifesaving care during pregnancy and childbirth.  


Let’s take a closer look at some of the challenges facing maternal health in Africa today, as well as some possible solutions to improving outcomes for mothers and babies across the continent.


The high maternal mortality rate in Africa


The high maternal mortality rate in Africa continues to be a great source of concern to the global community, despite advances in healthcare. According to Unicef, Sub-Saharan Africans suffer from the highest maternal mortality ratio, with 533 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, or 200,000 maternal deaths a year. This makes up for over two thirds (68%) of all maternal deaths per year worldwide.


The causes of these deaths vary from haemorrhaging, pre-existing medical conditions that have been aggravated by pregnancy, eclampsia, sepsis and embolisms. The one thing most of these causes of maternal mortality have in common is that they can be prevented if the births are attended by a skilled medical professional with access to proper equipment and supplies. 


The devastatingly high maternal mortality rate in Africa is especially disturbing given humanitarian efforts to address unsafe conditions for pregnant women around the world. By recognizing the need for improved maternal health in Africa, we can take steps toward addressing this critical issue.


Alt: A young mother cradles her child in an African village


Lack of access to quality healthcare


Access to quality healthcare is an essential part of a sustainable, functioning society. Unfortunately, many people around the world do not have it, which can cause long term harm to their physical and mental health, particular when it comes to childbirth and postnatal care.  


Every day, African women around the world are facing serious medical risks during and after pregnancy, and too often they face these challenges without the appropriate medical support. In the African region in 2022, only 65% of births were attended by skilled health personnel – the lowest globally and far off the 2030 target of 90%.


The persistently high maternal mortality rates across the continent can generally be attributed to inadequate access to qualified medical professionals and health services, as well as cultural norms that can endanger the safety of mothers during birthing processes.


Alt: A mother holding her children in a hospital room in Africa.


So, what’s the solution?


The state of maternal health in Africa is a complex issue with numerous contributing factors. However, improving it is an achievable goal that could transform the lives of thousands, if not millions, of women. 


How? By providing African women with access to comprehensive healthcare services, from antenatal care through to delivery and postnatal care. 


Improving maternal health and tackling the shocking maternal mortality rate in Africa starts with developing better essential services, particularly in rural areas. Here at Mayekoo, we work with local communities to do just that, for example as part of our project to renovate the maternity and NICU ward at Vakpo Medical Center in Ghana


The rural Vakpo community faces a consistent lack of funding and resources for their dilapidated clinic, which serves around 12,000 local residents, resulting in extremely high mortality rates. The maternity and NICU wards in particular are in dire need of renovation and investment - and we need your help.


Alt: A smiling mother plays with her baby


How can I help?


When it comes to tackling huge problems like the African maternal health crisis, it can feel overwhelming. We’re working towards a solution one project at a time, and with your help, we’re funding an upgrade of the outdated maternity ward at Vakpo. Our charity sweepstakes will raise funds for new medical equipment, incubators and the construction of new delivery rooms. 


For us, this type of fundraising is a win-win. You get to contribute to this potentially life-saving project while also getting an opportunity to win amazing prizes including cash, new tech devices and even a brand new car. 


You can browse our current sweepstakes here, and learn more about our Vakpo Medical Center renovation project here


Together, we can make a difference in improving maternal health in Africa, giving new mothers the chance for long and fulfilling lives.

Written: 23 February 2023
Written by: Mayekoo