Soul City launches their Pregnancy with Dignity Campaign

October marks the official launch of Soul City’s Pregnancy with Dignity Campaign in support of the Campaign of Accelerated Reduction in Maternal and Child Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).

The Campaign advocates for policy intervention and is motivated by the fundamental right to human dignity enshrined in Section 10 of the South African Constitution.  The concept of human dignity has become a central organizing principal in the idea of universal human rights.  Dignity in terms of the campaign refers to selfworth, personal standards and how pregnant woman perceive themselves and are perceived by others.

Soul City believes that society, communities and individuals have the right to live in an environment that is safe, supportive and sustainable. To support this ideal, Soul City’s Advocacy Unit promotes healthy public debate in the media and lobby for policy change through advocacy campaigns that will bring about social change.

CARMMA is one of the most embraced initiatives in place in South Africa to reduce maternal and child deaths. Soul City sees   CARMMA as an important campaign to support and to be actively involved in. It also concurs with the National Department of Health’s view that maternal and child deaths are not only a health issue, but also an issue of human development.

In South Africa it is estimated that for every 100 000 live births in 2012, there were 310 maternal deaths. With one million lives births in our country every year, this equates to 3100 maternal deaths around the time of pregnancy and during or shortly after giving birth.

Child death rates in South Africa continue to be alarmingly high. The death rate for children under the age of 5 years is 41 deaths per 1000 live births, the death rate of infants or children under the age of one year is 27 and the death rate of newborns is 12. South Africa’s National Development Plan implores us to reduce maternal and child death rates. There is consensus that maternal and child deaths should be placed at the top of the Post –2015 agenda.

The objectives of the campaign are:

  • To highlight the South African Government’s political leadership in the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality rates, celebrate progress made and profile best practice.
  • To demonstrate Soul City’s commitment to reducing maternal and newborn deaths.
  • To increase awareness around the issue of maternal and newborn mortality rates.
  • To use the Pregnancy with Dignity Campaign in order to secure appropriate policy action.
  • To highlight the importance of women’s rights

Soul City supports is of the view that maternal and child mortality can be reduced drastically in South Africa should the following be implemented:

  • Maternal waiting homes
    These are dormitory-like facilities close to or at hospitals or clinics. Women come to the waiting homes close to/at the end of their pregnancy, and once labour starts they move to the health facility.  Waiting homes are intended for women who live far from hospitals or clinics, who may not be able to get to the hospital quickly, as well as for women with high-risk pregnancies.
  • Transport plan
    An Amnesty International report released at the beginning of October revealed that transport remains a major problem, with roads in some areas in such poor condition that they cannot be used when it rains. According to the report, when women and girls found themselves in labor the ambulance shortage was so profound that they were told to make their own arrangements to get to the hospital.  Pregnant woman and communities should be encouraged to develop transport plans with the help of a clinic committee and community based monitors.
  • Extension of the child support grant to include the pregnancy period
    Amnesty International proposed that government start providing child  support grants to women before their children are born. According to  the organisation, pregnant women in impoverished nations need the  grant because finding employment is difficult during pregnancy; the  nutritious food they need are expensive, as is the cost of transport to  clinics for ante-natal care.
  • Cell phone airtime vouchers for pregnant women
    The National Department of Health (NDoH) launched MomConnect  earlier this year.  MomConnect is a initiative to use cellphone SMS  technology to register every pregnant woman in South Africa. This innitiative can be developed to support the suggested celphone  airtime voucher. The maternal health community is already using  mobile phones creatively.

“Health is not only about the bio-medical interventions; it is also about whether the environment in which the service is delivered is conducive”, Lebogang Ramafoko, CEO of the Soul City. She also referred to Deputy President Cyril Ramphosa, who at the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Forum, which took place in Johannesburg at the end of June this year, highlighted the need for governments to ensure that there were policies in place that reflected the link between health and development.

For further information:
Samantha Henkeman
Moxy Communications
Tel: +27 11 482 3580
Mobile: +27 81 350 1934

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