African states to revitalize maternal, infant health amid pandemic

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Africa-PressLiberia. African countries on Tuesday renewed commitments to revitalizing the health of women, children and adolescents as part of COVID-19 recovery.

Speaking at a virtual forum, senior policymakers from Nigeria, Malawi, South Africa, Liberia and Kenya said maternal, infant and adolescent health remained a top national priority despite pandemic-related disruptions.

“Women, children, and adolescents have been significantly affected by COVID-19 that has devastated economies and affected social and community life,” said Zweli Lawrence Mkhize, South African minister of health.

Mkhize said that South Africa will review national COVID-19 response strategies to ensure the country factors the reproductive health needs of women and youth including access to contraceptives and safe deliveries.

Senior African policymakers, campaigners, and researchers were among more than 1,000 delegates who participated in a two-day summit of Lives in the Balance: Equity in COVID-19 Response and Recovery that kicked off on Tuesday.

The summit was organized by global health lobbies including the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, CORE Group, Gavi, and the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children, and Adolescents.

It stressed the need for targeted investments, policy reforms, political goodwill, and grassroots campaigns to raise the visibility of maternal and infant health agenda during the pandemic.

Osagie Ehanire, Nigerian minister for health, said that robust financing coupled with the harnessing of innovations is key to reviving maternal, newborn, and adolescent health services in Africa as the continent emerges from social and economic disruptions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ehanire said that Nigeria has prioritized funding of high-impact interventions like increased access to modern contraceptives to avert unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions among women and girls.

Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, Malawian minister of health, said the southern African country has increased budgetary allocation towards women, children and youth-friendly health services.

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