February 2015 ThePresidency; The First Lady Margaret Kenyatta today challenged medical professionals in Africa to take advantage of Information Technology to solve persistent problems facing the continent in the Health Sector.
She described Information Technology as a great asset which can enable Africa solve the many recurrent problems that continue to plague the continent.
The First Lady spoke when she opened the 1st African Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology Regional Congress and the 39th Kenya Obstetrics and Gynecology Annual Scientific Conference at a Nairobi Hotel.
“This is the perfect forum to see how we can best leverage the great tools at our disposal through Information Technology (IT) for Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights”, said the First Lady.
She told the gynecologists and obstetricians to become possibility thinkers as they explore solutions to the many problems afflicting Africa especially on issues of Reproductive Health.
The First Lady said the recent surge in the emphasis on health and fitness devices in technology firms provides the best opportunity for Africa to further explore how the continent can best adopt health monitoring technologies to benefit the mothers during pregnancy and after childbirth.
She said although maternal mortality in Africa has dropped by 40 per cent in the past two decades, it remains intolerably high at 800 maternal deaths per day.
“Women should not die giving life”, said the First Lady quoting her Beyond Zero popular mantra. “When it happens the newborn and children suffer ten times more the risk of dying prematurely”
The First Lady said one of the greatest drawbacks that seriously affects maternal, neonatal and child health in Sub-saharan Africa is the region’s failure to recognize healthcare as an imperative right for all.
She said that over quarter million women die each year globally from pregnancy and delivery-related complications, adding that most of these deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“This is unacceptable especially as half of the mortalities occur during the process of labour and the causes of these deaths are preventable”, said the First Lady.
She regretted that only a few countries in Africa are on track to reach the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 on child and maternal health and called on a concerted push to realize the MDGs
“Improved healthcare for women translates to their families, communities and the society having productive citizenry that can realize their full potential in life.
The First Lady regretted that illiteracy, poverty, negative socio-cultural practices; limited resources and lack of community engagement and ownership are other socio-economic factors that compound the problem of effective service delivery, especially to women in Africa.
“Social determinants of health such as early marriages, teenage pregnancies, lack of choices and autonomous decision-making all work towards disempowering women and girls in Africa”, she added.
Pregnancy among women and girls is further aggravated by communicable diseases such as HIV, Malaria, tuberculosis and increasingly from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart ailments, kidney disease and cancers, said the First Lady.
She described both the Regional Congress and the Scientific Conference as a great milestone for the whole continent as they chart the way for future cooperation that is bound to greatly diminish diminish the instance of maternal and children mortality and morbidity due to knowledge sharing among the region’s medical professionals.
The First Lady underlined the need to appraise the regional bottlenecks in the Health Sector, fast-track interventions and innovations to save more lives
The medical professionals donated Sh 1 million towards the Beyond Zero Campaign.