We have officially launched our Africa Regional Meeting on Interventions for Obstetric and Newborn Care in Addis, Ethiopia!
Our morning started with a welcome ceremony attended by a number of high level dignitaries. Our director, Dr. Koki Agarwal, provided introductory remarks and we were joined by Ms. Becky Ferguson, Program Officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Mary Ellen Stanton, Senior Maternal Health Advisor with USAID Washington, and Dr. Kesete Berhan Admassu, State Minister for Health in Ethiopia.
Also with us representing the African Union were Her Excellency, Advocate Bience P. Gawanas, Commissioner for Social Affairs and the Honorable Ambassador Michael Battle. Our keynote address on maternal and newborn health in Africa was given by Dr. Mongi Shiletiwa Pyande, who is with Newborn Health and Making Pregnancy Safer out of WHO’s Regional Office for Africa.
Ambassador Battle thanked attendees for the leadership and passion they bring to Africa.
“Our strong commitment to maternal and child health is echoed throughout Africa, said Battle. “We need to ensure our focus is on the long term good health of the African continent and the rest of the world.”
Her Excellency Gwanas urged meeting attendees to not just discuss decisions during this meeting but to act now in saving the lives of women and newborns.
“We don’t need any more policies on this continent. We have enough” said Gwanas. “I put it in your hands to come up with solutions to give me and my colleagues. I did not want to miss this opportunity to be here with you and I urge to discuss action- so that we may act.”
Minister Admassu echoed those sentiments and said that Ethiopia is committed to meeting the Millennium Development Goals set forth and ensuring that the quality of care provided is up to standard.
“If we have a proven intervention, let’s not spend time discussing it, said Admassu. “Let’s begin implementing it and bringing it to scale.”
Ms. Stanton also encouraged attendees to take the learning being shared and bring it back to their countries.
“I am very excited about this meeting,” said Stanton. “This is the time when we can look at and see the evidence out there, take it and translate it into action.”
This call to action by our speakers was clear.
“Those of you working on the ground can make a difference to women and children,” continued Gwanas. “Your work touches us in many different ways and we are thankful for it.”
And with that our five day meeting with a special focus on Prevention and Management of Postpartum Hemorrhage, Pre-Eclampsia and Newborn Asphyxia begins. Together our policy leaders, experienced clinicians and program managers will work to determine how best to support accelerated implementation and expansion of maternal and newborn health programs in countries throughout Africa.
And then we will act.
Note: MCHIP will be blogging and tweeting live from Addis so check back in for updates, photos, presentations and more.