Men Should Step Up Role In Improving Maternal Health

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Emilienne Raoul -- the Republic of Congo's minister of health,social affairs and family -- on Sunday called on Congolese men to takea more active role in improving maternal health in the country, IRIN Newsreports. Congo's maternal mortality rate is higher than the averagerate in Africa. About 890 of every 100,000 pregnant women in Congo diein child birth from complications including postpartum hemorrhages,hypertension and infections, according to IRIN News.

Speakingin Pointe Noire, Congo, Raoul said, "Men have to get involved andparticipate in promoting reproductive health. To do so, we have to makeinformation available and create sufficient awareness on the subject."She added, "Support from a husband well informed about the issues ofpregnancy and delivery can make the difference between life and death.We do not want thousands of women to die because of complicationsduring pregnancy."

United Nations Population Fundofficials called for women in the country to have increased access toreproductive services, including family planning, qualified midwiferyand obstetric care. According to a 2006 survey of reproductive healthissues in Congo, 13% of Congolese women used contraceptives. Raoul saidthe government has plans to develop and implement a new nationalstrategy to address these issues.

Richard Dackam Ngatchou,UNFPA's Congo representative, said, "It is not acceptable that in the21st century women carry on dying while giving birth," adding, "Menmust support women physically and emotionally throughout the pregnancyand during the delivery" (IRIN News, 7/17). UNFPA last week to mark World Population Day 2007emphasized the important role men play in their partners' maternalhealth by ensuring that women have access to contraception, safeobstetric care and other services.

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The day, themed "Men asPartners in Maternal Health," aimed to promote men's role in theirpartners' pregnancies to help reduce maternal mortality rates. The dayalso focused on involving men in promoting gender equality andadvancing women's reproductive rights (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/13).

Partnering With Men 'Important Strategy' in Improving Maternal Health, Opinion Piece Says

"Partnering with men is an important strategy for advancingreproductive health and rights," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moonwrites in an East Africanopinion piece, adding that "gender equality ... is most likely to beachieved when men recognize that the lives of men and women areinterdependent and that the empowerment of women benefits everyone."

Accordingto Ban, men play a "decisive role" in many aspects of maternal health,including making decisions about family planning and the use ofhousehold resources that "influence the well-being and prospects of thewhole family." He writes that the "support of an informed husband" canmean the "difference between life and death in cases of complications,when women need immediate medical care."

About 99% of the morethan 500,000 annual deaths during pregnancies and childbirth occur indeveloping countries, and nearly all of them are preventable, accordingto Ban. "Far too many women die during pregnancy and childbirth becausetheir right to sexual and reproductive health is denied," Ban writes,concluding, "Let us all encourage men to become partners and agents forchange, supporting human rights and safe motherhood in every waypossible, thus contributing to creating a world of greater health andopportunity for all" (Ban, East African, 7/17).

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Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork\t\t\t\t\t\t\t

Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Women's Health Policy Report, search thearchives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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