The Puntland State of Somalia is strengthening political commitment and leadership in increasing public awareness about the status of young mothers and the seriousness of the problem in line with maternal and neonatal deaths and morbidity. The commitment was re-emphasised at the commemoration of the second anniversary of the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) at the end of November, 2016.
CARMMA is an African Union Commission (AUC) and UNFPA initiative to intensify the implementation of the Maputo Plan of Action for the reduction of maternal mortality on the continent. Several UN agencies, bilateral donors and NGOs support the CARMMA at national, regional and global levels. The CARMMA was initiated by the AUC in recognition of the daunting challenge of reducing maternal mortality in most African countries. The campaign has motivated significant national ownership, and has been successfully launched by 37 AU member states including Somalia, which launched the CARMMA in November 2014.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) in Puntland in partnership with UNFPA commemorated the second anniversary under the theme ‘Moving CARMMA to the next level – focusing on young mothers’.
The commemorative ceremony was attended by the Vice President of Puntland State of Somalia, Abdihakim Haji Omar and other top government officials, the Honourary CARMMA Ambassador for Puntland Anisa Haji Mumin, UNFPA Somalia Representative Nikolai Botev and key UN partner agencies, women groups and activists, students, health professionals, NGOs and local civil society including the media.
The Vice President of Puntland commended the MoH and Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the CARMMA Ambassador, UNFPA and other partners for their exceptional work and commitment in advancing maternal, newborn and child health in the country. The Vice President took note of the accomplishments and related positive interventions that had been undertaken to address the problem of maternal mortality.
“The Government is committed to take the lead on this great cause of saving the lives of mothers and babies,” said Haji Omar, adding: “I would like to congratulate the UNFPA Garowe sub-office team for their exceptional achievements in reproductive and maternal health sphere.”
The Vice President also made a call to all humanitarian partners to scale up efforts to address the growing health needs of drought-stricken communities, including mothers and children.
He also expressed government’s commitment in ensuring that victims of gender-based violence receive proper services.
“The establishment of a forensic laboratory system in Puntland, for the collection and examination DNA-based evidence, is a land mark achievement that will support the enforcement of the Sexual Offences Act,” said the Vice President.
In August 2016, the Puntland Parliament passed a law criminalising all sexual offences in the Puntland State of Somalia. MoJ prepared the Puntland Sexual Offences Bill with technical and financial support from UNFPA and UNDP.
The Minister of Justice Salah Habib Jama also commended all the partners involved in the CARMMA and the prevention of gender-based violence in Puntland. He pledged that MoJ would continue to setup and strengthen national mechanisms to advance maternal health and protect women and girls against all forms of gender-based violence.
“The MoJ will continue to work closely with UNFPA, the MoH and other partners to ensure both the adequate implementation of the recently endorsed Sexual Offences Act and the full establishment of the forensic system to strengthen the medico-legal response to GBV in Puntland,” said Habib Jama.
The CARMMA Goodwill Ambassador Anisa Haji Mumin, commended the national leadership and UNFPA in addressing the issue of maternal mortality through the effective delivery of the CARMMA comprehensive action plan.
She also emphasised the importance of engaging men to improve access and use of maternal health services. “Men should be adequately informed about the available maternal health services so that they could timely support their partners to visit the clinic or the midwife,” said the CARMMA Goodwill Ambassador. Haji Mumin also made an appeal to national counterparts and the civil society to continue reaching out to underserved communities and groups, in particular young mothers, to increase their access to and use of appropriate support in pregnancy and at birth.
UNFPA Representative Nikolai Botev, expressed his gratitude to the Vice-President and the Government of Puntland for its commitment to the cause of reducing maternal mortality and morbidity.
“The presence of the Puntland senior leadership at this commemoration shows the government’s commitment towards improving the lives of mothers and children,” said Botev. He also commended the CARMMA Ambassador for her dedication in intensifying the implementation of the CARMMA Action Plan.
Botev noted that there is still a long way to go towards reducing maternal mortality in spite of the progress made over the past years.
“In Somalia, one out of every 22 women dies due to pregnancy related causes,” said Botev. He underlined that young mothers are more likely to experience severe maternal morbidities such as fistula resulting from prolonged obstructed labour. “It is vital that we empower young mothers by providing them with the tools, resources and support needed to break the cycle of maternal mortality,” said the UNFPA Representative.
Botev also emphasised the need to keep up the momentum of the CARMMA and the need to move faster towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. “We need to reach those with the most disadvantaged and under-served populations, especially those residing in the drought stricken areas, as SDGs are founded on the principle of leaving no one behind,” stated the UNFPA Representative.
The UNFPA Representative took note of the accomplishments and positive interventions that had been undertaken to address the problem of maternal mortality. “It is encouraging, at the anniversary of CARMMA, to witness that in 2016, 4625 deliveries were assisted by hospitals, 20160 normal deliveries were assisted by more than 80 health centers, 72 obstetric fistula repair cases were performed, six midwifery schools continued functioning in Puntland with 40 midwifery students graduated, a performance-based incentive pilot project was launched, and 2600 beneficiaries received reproductive health counseling and services through the reproductive health outreach campaigns in drought affected regions,” said Botev.
In view of the poetic and oral tradition of Somalia, Jama “Dheere”, a community artist, presented some poetry on the importance of seeking access to maternal health information and services, including skilled attendance at birth, and basic and comprehensive emergency obstetric and neonatal care.
“Mothers are the backbone of our community: a bleeding mother is a bleeding nation,” said Jama in one of his poetic narration.
– Jihan Salad
For more information please contact UNFPA Somalia Communications Specialist Pilirani Semu-Banda on e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org