The Enhancement of East African Universities’ Contribution towards the Attainment of Millennium Development Goal 5-Improving Maternal Health
Froese, Jean Chamberlain
Angina, Bonaventure Michael Okello
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Improving maternal health was recognized by the international community as a key component of the United Nations 2000 Millennium Summit initiative to reduce worldwide hunger, poverty and disease. All participating countries agreed to work toward the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG-5) in particular, which focuses on reducing the global maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent by 2015 compared to 1990 rates. According to recent estimates, exciting progress towards reducing maternal mortality has been made in many developing regions, including sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia where the majority of maternal deaths occur. Despite this important progress however, an estimated 358,000 maternal deaths occurred worldwide in 2008. Worse still, developing countries account for 99 percent, or 355,000, of all deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia account for 87 percent of global maternal deaths, (313,000 deaths). It has also been estimated that, in sub-Saharan Africa, a woman’s risk of dying from preventable or treatable complications of pregnancy and childbirth over the course of her life time is 1 in 31, compared to only 1 in 4300 in developed regions (United Nations, 2010).1 Sub-Saharan African countries have much to gain from the realization and achievement of the MDGs. This takes the involvement of different stakeholders including universities. However, what role(s) are the universities in Sub-Saharan Africa playing in educating students about MDGs and, especially, MDG-5? Given that current and future Sub-Saharan Africa University students are considered to be the elites in their countries and will become decision makers and activists, a study on the Enhancement of East African Universities’ Contribution towards the Attainment of MDG 5 reveals that universities can, and should play a pivotal role in accelerating progress.
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