Horn of Africa's health inequities worsening amid conflict: campaigners


  • World
  • Wednesday, 27 Apr 2022

NAIROBI, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Civil strife across the Horn of African region is undermining access to timely and quality healthcare services with women, children and adolescents bearing the brunt, global health advocates said Tuesday.

The campaigners said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, that ramping up investments in maternal, infant and adolescent health in conflict-stricken Horn of African states was imperative to avert a full-blown humanitarian crisis.

Helen Clark, the chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) board and the former New Zealand prime minister, said that governments and lenders had an obligation to ensure women, children and youth affected by armed conflicts in East and Horn of Africa had access to healthcare.

According to Clark, sustaining provision of reproductive health services and routine immunization in humanitarian settings across the region called for targeted investments, advocacy and robust partnerships.

She stressed that health workers deserved enhanced protection to enable them to provide critical services like midwifery, childhood immunization and contraceptives in regional hotspots.

While noting that conflicts in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had taken a toll on the health of women, children and adolescents, Clark urged provision of social safety nets, clean water and nutritional supplements to prevent fatalities.

Kersti Kaljulaid, the UN secretary-general's global advocate for Every Woman Every Child and ex-president of Estonia, said that political goodwill coupled with innovative financing was key to sustaining healthcare services for women, children and adolescents affected by civil strife in the Horn of Africa region.

Kaljulaid added that seamless provision of childhood immunization, safe delivery and birth control services for women of childbearing age in the region required investments in modern logistics and training of manpower.

Marleen Temmerman, the director of the Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Nairobi-based Aga Khan University East Africa and PMNCH Board member, noted that civil strife, climatic stresses and the pandemic had disrupted provision of maternal and health services in the Horn of Africa region, calling for better coordination, accountability and adoption of indigenous conflict resolution measures to ensure that women, children and youth in the region were not denied basic healthcare services.

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