Mothers Waiting for Malaria Testing at a Clinic in Maynage, Rwanda
On December 13, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) announced an agreement with the Millennium Villages project (MVP) to promote universal access to reproductive health and protect the lives of young African mothers. Through this partnership the UNFPA hopes to leverage its expertise in promoting reproductive rights and sexual and reproductive health and the “multisectoral and science-based approach and primary health-care strategy” of the MVP.
While infant death rates are high in Sub-Saharan Africa, the UNFPA reports that women under the age of 20 are at a higher risk of losing their babies. UNFPA’s Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid stressed the importance of “increasing access to reproductive health services such as voluntary family planning, skilled birth attendance, emergency obstetric care, and prenatal care.” Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, pointed out the importance of these programs in reducing child and maternal mortality, and asserted that partnerships like these will enable the achievement of the fourth and fifth Millennium Development Goals in the toughest parts of Africa.
Drawing on the research and problem-solving expertise of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, and the project implementation and funding support of Millennium Promise and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Millennium Villages project works with 12 communities in Sub-Saharan Africa to “ensure that their development will become sustainable and self-sufficient .” As of the last report on the MVP website, the project has more than doubled maize yields, decreased malaria prevalence by more than 50%, and significantly improved access to improved drinking water and sanitation facilities in the Millennium Villages.
In this new partnership, the UNFPA will help to develop the family planning services and provide access to appropriate optimal contraceptive methods in all of the Millennium Villages, while the MVP will analyze the impact of access to effective contraceptives on utilization. The Millennium Villages project will then evaluate the results of the partnership effort and use the lessons learned from theses activities to help other African governments scale-up and implement similar programs.
Image Credit: Millennium Promise on Flickr