Ms Stephanie Okereke Linus, a Nigerian Actress and filmmaker, has advised African leaders to commit more resources to help address the numerous challenges of maternal health.
She said although Africa recorded some health sector progress during the era of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), they were not enough, compared to what pertained in the Western world, especially as when diverse issues of maternal health still persisted with their attendant high morbidity and mortality rates.
Ms Linus, who gave the advice during a media interaction at the invitation of the UNFPA in Accra on Friday, said being the Africa Regional UN Ambassador for Maternal Health, she would intensify advocacy and education on issues of women’s rights, and also advocate against early child marriage.
She said efforts at reducing maternal mortality seemed to be stalling as there was lack of action by the appropriate authorities including governments, medical personnel, and society as a whole, in pushing for the right legislations, focus, leadership and continuous stakeholder engagements, as well as public education.
She cited challenges such as poor access to health care, lack of infrastructure expansion, low rate of female education in some African countries, women’s economic empowerment, and the low media involvement in advocacy, as some major barriers to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She called on every country in the continent to step up efforts, form partnerships and intensify advocacy, to improve maternal health both in Africa and the world over.
She said she was very passionate about what she was doing, saying it was a shame that in the 21st century a high number of women still faced preventable incidences such as Obstetric Fistula which, was a medical condition resulting from prolonged obstructed labour, and ending up with the woman either leaking urine, faeces or both through the birth canal.
She referred to Obstetric Fistula as a great injustice to women in the performance of their reproductive rights, and called for good governance as a key factor towards the elimination of this preventable health condition.
Ms Linus said she was in the country to participate in the 2017 Glitz Style Awards, which was scheduled for tomorrow August 19, 2017, and would take the opportunity to visit certain key leadership people including the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection.