New Partnership Aims to Improve Maternal Health in Africa

Community Empowerment Through Needed Supplies, Education, Family Planning to be Main Focus of Work


Doctor Ruben Orucha treats patients at the Mbola Health Center in the Millennium Village of Mbola, Tanzania.

Doctor Ruben Orucha treats patients at the Mbola Health Center in the Millennium Village of Mbola, Tanzania.

UNITED NATIONS, New York—UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) announced an agreement today to promote universal access to reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa in order to protect the lives of young mothers. The new partnership will draw upon MVP’s multisectoral and science-based approach and primary health-care strategy and UNFPA’s expertise in promoting reproductive rights and sexual and reproductive health.

Infant death rates are almost double among women who have children under the age of 20, and it is necessary to improve maternal and child health by providing voluntary family planning, medical supplies, training and education. The UNFPA-MVP partnership will help local governments provide supplies to clinics and hospitals in Millennium Village clusters. It will also identify trainers for health personnel in the use of commodities, as well as sexual and reproductive health education materials and educators for adolescents and adult women and men.

“We look forward to joining forces with the Millennium Villages Project to widen the availability of sexual and reproductive health services—including family planning, skilled birth attendance4383, emergency obstetric care and prenatal and postnatal care—across sub-Saharan Africa,” said UNFPA‘s Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. “This partnership will go a long way in saving the lives of more mothers, and allowing more families to enjoy a life of prosperity and good health.”

“Many programmes such as those in the Millennium Villages show that scaling up primary health systems in rural and remote areas plays a decisive role in reducing child and maternal mortality,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute. “It is partnerships like these that will make a difference and enable us to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 in the toughest parts of Africa.”

MVP, a partnership between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise the UN Development Programme and local governments, provides a new approach to fighting poverty. Now covering approximately 500,000 people and growing, the Project is showing the development community worldwide that an integrated package of development interventions, supported by a modest financial investment-about $110 per person annually over 5-10 years-will help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Maternal health remains a central focus of this effort.

The partnership will be characterized by the following activities:

• UNFPA will work with national governments, the MVP and Millennium Village communities to develop voluntary, safe and effective community- based family planning services and provide free, universal and equitable access to appropriate optimal contraceptive methods in all Millennium Villages.

• The MVP will monitor and evaluate the coverage and use of contraceptives in targeted villages and analyze the impact of access to effective contraceptives on utilization. It will also evaluate results and assess lessons-learned from the expanded community- and family-centered approaches in the targeted Millennium Village sites to help governments replicate, scale-up and transfer these approaches to other places across Africa.