CONGO: Men called on to support reproductive health issues

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Congolese men have been urged to step up their role in improving maternal health in a country where the maternal mortality rate is above the African average.

The Minister of Health, Social Affairs and Family, Emilienne Raoul, said: “Men have to get involved and participate in promoting reproductive health. To do so, we have to make information available and create sufficient awareness on the subject.”

“Support from a husband well informed about the issues of pregnancy and delivery can make the difference between life and death. We do not want thousands of women to die because of complications during pregnancy,” she said in Pointe Noire on 15 July.

In Congo, about 890 of every 100,000 pregnant women die in child birth. Complications include post-partum haemorrhages, hypertension and infections.

Richard Dackam Ngatchou, Congo Representative for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said the maternal mortality rate “remains largely above the average African level”.

Dackam agreed that men should become more involved in the pregnancy process. “It is not acceptable that in the 21st century women carry on dying while giving birth,” he said. “Men must support women physically and emotionally throughout the pregnancy and during the delivery.”

Family planning has also been identified as an area of weakness. A 2006 survey of reproductive health issues showed that only 13 percent of Congolese women used contraceptives.

UNFPA said women should have access to vital reproductive services, including family planning, qualified midwifery and obstetric care.

Raoul said the current policy was inefficient and the government would develop and implement a new national strategy to address these issues.

Source: IRIN