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: UN News Center

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has teamed up with a group of artists from the United States and Tanzania to raise awareness, through music, on the need to have better maternal health services in the East African nation, where deaths related to childbearing remain a serious challenge.

Source: UNFPA
In the aftermath of post-election violence here, almost 18 thousand people -- 70 per cent of them women, children and older persons – have been temporarily re-settled in the Western part of the country, fleeing from clashes between communities in the city of Duékoué. Another 30,000 have fled to Liberia. UNFPA, working as part of a humanitarian response team, has been paying particular attention to the reproductive health needs of women in the camps for internally displaced persons and protecting them against gender-based violence.

Source: The Botswana Gazette
The debate over whether abortion should be allowed on-demand or not appears to be far from over. While some organizations and prominent individuals aggressively call for its legalization, others defend the status quo on moral grounds.

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