Zim won't achieve MDGs by 2015: WHO

HARARE - Zimbabwe won’t achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5, that relates to maternal health, by 2015.

This was stated by World Health Organisation (WHO) representative David Okello in Harare on Wednesday.

MDG 5’s goal seeks to reduce by three-quarters the maternal mortality rate and achieve universal access to reproductive health.

“HIV access is an area that the country is doing very well, malaria and TB care too. MDG 5 is my worry and lamentation,” Okello said during a meeting convened to build momentum for the post-2015 world health plan.

“It is the worst of all the MDGs and is not being handled well. This seems to be the same worldwide.

“Perhaps it is because of how our health is functioning, perhaps because there are not enough midwives, perhaps because they are not well motivated. Perhaps it is because some mothers do not want to go to hospitals for certain reasons.

“Perhaps because pregnancy is not a disease, it is a natural physiological process; after nine months, mothers give birth, but they are dying.”

The final review of MDGs is scheduled for September this year followed by launch of the post-2015 agenda next year.

Mobilising internal funding to advance MDGs has been a challenge as Zimbabwe’s economy is ailing, leaving the burden largely in the hands of the international donor community.

Government figures show that the country’s maternal mortality ratio stands at 960 deaths per 100 000 live births. This is three times more than the global average of 287.

Among other measures, the country recently adopted new WHO HIV guidelines which among other things, aim to save mothers and their babies from succumbing to HIV.

Okello said in on-going consultations, stakeholders feel countries should maintain momentum for goals four, five and six which seek to reduce infant mortality, maternal mortality and combat major diseases respectively.

Though reflections are serious in other countries, Okello expressed concern over the sluggish way consultations are being done locally.

“Globally, the process is moving very fast. Engagements at the local level seem limited. Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems to be taking a lead; there are limited consultations with other sectors. There is need to clearly define channels of contribution and make sure that we collect views across the board,” he said.

Okello feels successes registered in fighting HIV could be attributed to the presence of lobby groups pushing the agenda, suggesting a similar approach should be used in maternal health advocacy.

The post-2015 plan has a wider scope, factoring in economic, social and political dimensions with a view to improve accountability, equity, transparency, partnership and inclusivity in health provision.

Critics feel the current MDGs ignored critical areas such as non-communicable diseases, sub-tropical diseases, social determinants and systems of health.

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