East Africa Community Launches Regional Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Scorecard

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By: Elizabeth Muiruri, Regional Communications, Media and Advocacy Manager, Save the Children

This blog was originally published by the EVERY ONE campaign. Minor edits have been made that do not appear in the original post.

The East African Community (EAC) has launched a Regional Reproductive Maternal Newborn and Child Health (RMNCH) Scorecard. The Scorecard is an innovative tool for communicating progress on key global, regional and national commitments for children and women’s health. The Scorecard was launched in the 2nd Health Ministers and Parliamentarians’ Forum held recently in Kampala, Uganda that brought together EAC Ministers responsible for health, selected parliamentarians, the academia and development partners.

The symposium organised by the EAC with support from Save the Children and other development partners, looked at accelerated and sustained progress in children and women’s health post 2015, informed by the progress, challenges and lessons learned during the MDG era. To date, countries world over, including those in the East Africa Community have made commendable progress towards the Millennium Development Goal on reduction in child mortality (MDG4), with Rwanda and Tanzania having attained the target more than a year before the deadline. However, progress towards the Millennium Development Goal on improvement in maternal health (MDG5) has been slow across the region.

In an opening statement, Dr. Sezibera, EAC Secretary General said, “Adult lifetime risk of maternal death – the probability that a 15-year-old woman will die eventually from a maternal cause in sub-Saharan Africa is 1 in 38, in sharp contrast to 1 in 3,700 among women in developed countries! On the other hand, Children in sub-Saharan Africa are over 15 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in developed regions. There is need to radically reform health policies, systems and investment models to address the needs of newborns, adolescents and young people that are not effectively addressed using the existing interventions.”

Leaders at EAC called for commitment to RMNCH issues and to put them at the forefront maternal health east africa scorecard child newborn reproductive
Leaders at EAC called for commitment to RMNCH issues and to put them at the forefront

The EAC RMNCH Scorecard focuses on continuum of care from pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, delivery, postnatal, infancy and early childhood. It is the first ever regional level scorecard for tracking progress in children and women’s health. It essentially stimulates peer learning among partner states as well as high-level technical and political conversations on issues affecting children, women and families. Download your copy of – EAC RMNCH Scorecard.

In the recent past, partners have engaged with the EAC to ensure that children’s issues feature prominently in the regional integration and development agenda. Children make up half of the EAC’s total population, an astounding 67.7 million in the five partner states (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi). The EAC and Save the Children have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2014 that seeks to leverage the expertise and influence of the two organizations in improving the welfare of children and mothers in the East African region.

Development partners are also working with EAC leaders to step up efforts in the last stretch to 2015, to ensure every child is within reach of a health worker able to prevent and treat the leading causes of child mortality, and has access to newborn care, immunization and proper nutrition. In the recent past, the East Africa Regional Office had a lobby meeting with EAC, to highlight the EVERY ONE Campaign with Tanzania as a case study, which has led to further engagement on development of the Regional Integrated RMNCAH Policy (2015-2030) and the RMNCAH Strategic Plan (2015-2020).

This high level event saw Save the Children partner with White Ribbon Alliance (Uganda Chapter) represented by Robina Biteyi in one of panels at the opening of the Forum to speak on Citizens’ hearings from a regional to global perspective – clearly highlighting the need for government and leaders to listen and act on citizen’s views on women’s, child and newborn health. Please download the presentation here – Citizens Hearings at EAC RMNCAH forum. Save the Children Uganda Health Advisor, Dr. Sarah Naikoba, led a panel that discussed “Enhancing Community level Capacity to deliver high impact Reproductive maternal newborn child and adolescent health services in the East African Community.” To view her presentation download – Enhancing community level capacity to deliver high impact RMNCAH at EAC.

east africa children
East Africa’s Children present their dreams on MNCH to the East Africa Community Deputy Scretary-General Hon. Jesca Eriyo

At the event children presented the “Dreams of the children in East Africa” to the EAC’s Deputy Secretary-General Hon. Jesca Eriyo underlining the need for safe motherhood and why it is critical to give the unborn and newborn a chance. The poem underscores the requisite to achieve the MDGs on maternal and child health.

The Children’s voices, the Scorecard and other presentations in the symposium led to a commitment signed by the ministers of health and parliamentarians in EAC partner states stressing the need for accelerated and concerted investments in the health of children, adolescents and mothers. Have a look at the EAC Communique signed by Health Ministers and Parliamentarians Forum.

How East Africa treats its young children and mothers is perhaps the best measure of the region’s well-being and its future prospects within the continent. We know that a healthy and well-nourished population is a springboard for economic prosperity and for social development, and that – despite progress – this region is striving to achieve the 2015 Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal and child mortality.