A woman in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying from complications in childbirth. Children and babies are tragically losing their mothers to conditions that are quickly and easily treated in the developed world, where the chances of death from childbirth complications are close to 1 in 4,000. In Africa, those children who lose their mothers are ten times more likely to die within two years.1
There are many threats to maternal health in Africa: hemorrhage, infection, and complications from unsafe abortions, to name a few. The Millennium Development Goals to ‘reduce the child mortality rate by two thirds, and the maternal mortality rate by three quarters by 2015’2 were set in place and endorsed by 147 heads of state in 2001 to stimulate the much-needed development of African healthcare systems.
On August 4th, the GE Foundation announced a $20 million commitment to advancing mother and child health in Africa, to help achieve those goals. The funds will go towards developing and strengthening healthcare systems across the continent, as well as training for clinicians.
“Our programs are developed to increase capacity, build skills and create new jobs,” said David Barash, GE Foundation’s Chief Medical Officer. “With our partners, we are creating scalable solutions that can have lasting impact on the delivery of healthcare in Africa and globally.”
This month’s US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC presents an opportunity to raise awareness of the pressing issues around African maternal healthcare, and foster new links between all sectors of the healthcare industry worldwide. The GE Foundation’s commitment aims to develop several key projects including technician training, safe anesthesia, girls’ education, and oxygen for children at risk.
“GE Foundation is honored to participate in the 2014 US-Africa Leaders Summit and discuss innovative ways to increase access to healthcare with leaders from throughout the region,” said Deb Elam, GE Foundation president and GE’s Chief Diversity Officer. “The GE Foundation is committed to building a world that works better, and this commitment, along with that of our volunteer employee networks around the world, demonstrates our support of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.”