UNFPA’s Country Representative, Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, the causes of death are well known, and they are preventable.
“In Liberia, haemorrhage (bleeding), hypertension, unsafe abortion, sepsis (infections) and HIV complications are common direct and indirect causes of death of pregnant women. These problems are exacerbated by poor health infrastructure, low rate of skilled birth attendance, low access to family planning services and high rates of adolescent pregnancy,” said Dr. Ndyanabangi.
He startlingly revealed that only 61 percent of women in Liberia give birth in the presence of skilled health personnel, who are able to address complications.
The UNFPA country boss was speaking recently at program marking the 50th anniversary of the organization, the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the launch of the state of the world population report held at the Monrovia City Hall.
The state of world population report was launched under the theme: “UNFINISHED BUSINESS: the pursuit of rights and choices FOR ALL.”
Dr. Ndyanabangi indicated that tackling maternal mortality is an unfinished business that needs serious attention. In a bid to address these problems, the UNFPA official called on stakeholders to join the organization to improve the coverage and quality of maternal health services to ensure the availability, accessibility, use and quality of essential obstetric care for the threatening conditions, including complications after abortion.
He furthered that adolescent pregnancy is another development issued that must be tackled. “The price of adolescent pregnancy is lost potential: foreshortened education, lack of opportunities, constrained life options and stubborn poverty for the poorest, first-time young mothers and their communities. The youngest, first-time pregnant mothers bear a significantly high risk of maternal death and disabilities, including obstetric fistula. Stillbirths and death are 50 percent more likely for babies born to mothers younger than 20 years for babies born to mothers aged 20-29,” he continued.
A UNFPA 2016 report indicated that about 33.5 percent of girls aged 15-19had already begun childbearing; an increase from 31.3 percent in 2013.
“We must provide package of comprehensive sexually education and sexual reproductive health and HIC services for adolescents, including contraception, prevention and treatment of STIs and HIV, maternal health services and post-abortion services in a sensitive, confidential and non-judgmental, and non-discriminatory way, without legal restrictions,” the UNFPA Country Representative told the gathering.
Dr. Ndyanabangi among other things vowed that UNFPA will collaborate with other partners in ending child marriage and female genital mutilation, which according to him, are some of the unfinished businesses.
Launching the report, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, said reminded that the 2019 report shows that while much has been attained, much more remains to be done in fulfillment of UNFPA’s key role.
She said the report provides a basis for its inclusion in the 2019 - 2020 National Budget of the Government of Liberia in its commitment for the implementation of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD); as well as its commitment to working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“I believe this report gives a clear demographic, economic and social outlook of the State of our Population, which will help Government and Development partners in prioritizing the sectors which are in dire need of financial interventions and support,” said the Vice President.
“These statistics are quite disturbing, lending one to believe that in spite of all that has been done over the years to reduce these numbers; that much, much more need to be done. Permit me to include, that I am further disturbed that the UNFPA Liberian section of the report did not include statistics on Sexual and Gender based Violence,” she added.