Inaugural Meeting of the Regional Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Task Force in the African Region

Brazzaville, 2 April 2014 -- The inaugural meeting of the Regional Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH) Task Force in the WHO African Region got underway  in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, on Tuesday .

The task force was established in 2013 to provide strategic advice to WHO on the development of policies and strategies related to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health in the African Region. This is in line with one of WHO’s Strategic Directions in the African Region, that is, putting mothers and children first in order to accelerate the reduction of the high maternal and child mortality.

The task force comprises 16 members representing a broad range of disciplines covering aspects of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, including epidemiology, public health, obstetrics and gynecology, neonatology, pediatrics and child health, adolescent health, health economics, anthropology and sociology.

The meeting being held in Brazzaville will review  the  existing RMNCH Programmes and Strategies in the Re-gion, and assess the status of implementation of current interventions at country level. The task force members will also  advise on how to improve the implementation of these programmes and strategies  and make recom-mendations to address key RMNCH challenges in the Region.

Although some countries have made progress in addressing maternal and child health issues, maternal, newborn and child mortality in the African Region remains high compared to other WHO regions. The current estimate of maternal mortality ratio in the Region is 480 per 100,000 live births. Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest proportion of maternal deaths attributed to HIV. It is also estimated that out of the 19,000 maternal deaths due to HIV/AIDS worldwide, 17,000 occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Under-five mortality rate is estimated at 95 per 1,000 live births, and the current rates of decline in both under-five and maternal mortality are considered inadequate to reach MDGs 4 and 5 by 2015.  In addition adolescents continue to face challenges in accessing quality sexual and reproductive health information and services.

It is expected that the work of the task force will contribute significantly to improving maternal and child health in the Region.

This three-day meeting will be attended by some 40 participants including representatives of the Pan American Health Organization, WHO East Mediterranean Regional Office, WHO headquarters as well as WHO Represent-atives from 3 countries of the Region. 

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