The maternal mortality ratio is unacceptably high in Africa. Forty per cent of all pregnancy-related deaths worldwide occur in Africa. On average, over 7 women die per 1,000 live births. About 22,000 African women die each year from unsafe abortion, reflecting a high unmet need for contraception. Contraceptive use among women in union varies from 50 per cent in the southern sub-region to less than 10 per cent in middle and western Africa" UNFPA

Early and unwanted childbearing, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and pregnancy-related illnesses and deaths account for a significant proportion of the burden of illness experienced by women in Africa. Gender-based violence is an influential factor negatively impacting on the sexual and reproductive health of one in every three women. Many are unable to control decisions to have sex or to negotiate safer sexual practices, placing them at great risk of disease and health complications.

According to UNAIDS, there is an estimated of 22.2 million people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan African in 2009, which represents 68% of the global HIV burden. Women are at higher risk than men to be infected by HIV, their vulnerability remains particulary high in the Sub-Saharan Africa and 76% of all HIV women in the world live in this region.

In almost all countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, the majority of people living with HIV are women, especially girls and women aged between 15-24. Not only are women more likely to become infected, they are more severely affected. Their income is likely to fall if an adult man loses his job and dies. Since formal support to women are very limited, they may have to give up some income-genrating activities or sacrifice school to take care of the sick relatives.

For more information on HIV/AIDS and Reproductive health, please visit the following websites:

Source: UNFPA East and Southern Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa — From changing temperatures and weather patterns to extreme storms and rising sea levels, the vulnerability of women and girls across the world is worsening steadily.

It is highly problematic that during climate-induced natural disasters, essential health services including sexual and reproductive health services are often overlooked, with staggering consequences - a rise in unintended pregnancies, higher risk of maternal death, and increases in child marriage and gender-based violence (GBV).

Source: WHO 

PRESS RELEASE

The World Health Organization announced multiple commitments to drive change for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity at the Generation Equality Forum, held last week in Paris. The WHO commitments focused on ending gender-based violence; advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights; and supporting health workers as well as feminist movements and leadership. These commitments shape a progressive and transformative blueprint for advancing gender equality, health equity, human rights and the empowerment of women and girls globally.

Source: VOA 

Blantyre, Malawi — Malawi's parliament has withdrawn an abortion bill from debate following opposition to the proposal to liberalize the country's law, which only allows abortions when the mother's life is at risk. Anti-abortion groups had urged the National Assembly not to discuss the measure, but activists who want abortion options expanded say they will fight on.

Source: Nation 

Female genital mutilation (FGM) will soon be criminalised in semi-autonomous north-eastern region of Somalia, Puntland.

Source: Front Page Africa

Monrovia — First lady Clar Duncan Weah was on Wednesday joined by her husband, President George Weah and top government officials to launch her 'She's You Personal Hygiene Initiative' in support of women and adolescent girls.

Source: UNFPA East and Southern Africa

North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo — Following the eruption of the volcano, Mount Nyiragongo near Goma, tens of thousands of women and girls are in urgent need of critical sexual and reproductive health services, including support to pregnant women, newborn babies and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (GBV).

Source: Nigeria Health Watch 

Indo (not her real name) was just 15 years old when she became pregnant. Her boyfriend took her to the only general hospital in their community to terminate the pregnancy. The general hospital did not offer safe abortion services, so, the midwife advised them to formally inform their parents and make necessary arrangements to have the baby.

Source: UNFPA East and Southern Africa 

United Nations — Fully investing in midwives by 2035 would avert roughly two-thirds of maternal, newborn deaths and stillbirths, saving 4.3 million lives per year.

Millions of lives of women and newborns are lost, and millions more experience ill health or injury, because the needs of pregnant women and skills of midwives are not recognized or prioritized.

Source: UNFPA East and Southern Africa 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lesotho experienced a 14 per cent decline in family planning coverage in certain districts in 2020, compared to 2019, with one district registering a significant 40 per cent drop.

Source: The Rwenzori Times

Woman MP for Mitoma District, Hon Jovah Kamateka, last week moved a motion for resolution of Parliament urging government to develop and enforce policies and strategies to protect girls against teenage pregnancy and child marriages.

The legislator is pushing for government intervention in laying strategies and putting in place measures to address the rising cases of teenage pregnancies both during and post the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: GroundUp 

Birth control pills freely distributed in Zimbabwe are being smuggled into and sold in South Africa.

Many Zimbabwean women prefer these pills above those from South African clinics.

The market is fuelled by the struggle women have to access health facilities.

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