By Omar Bah
The UNFPA regional director for West and Central Africa, Mabingue Ngom has said that over four hundred women die every year in The Gambia whiles giving birth.
He said during often time the child will die with the mother or it would be brought to life without having the experience to taste the love of a mother.
“West and Central Africa are the regions with the highest rate of maternal mortality,” he said during the opening of a five-day international consultation on Islam, family well-being and traditional practices.
In The Gambia, even though some strives were made over the years, women are dying when giving birth but he said family planning can contribute significantly in reducing maternal mortality.
“If every woman has access to family planning we can cut at least one third of maternal maternity.”
“In this part of Africa a woman has a 100% chance to die when giving birth than the woman in the North and we must stop it. And the religious leaders have a role to play,” he said.
He said UNFPA will continue to support the Gambia in her endeavor to address the menace of maternal mortality.
“This gathering will also seek to promote maternal health in the Gambia and the region. The UNFPA is also committed to ensure that it does not only stop at accessing information but the right resources are available to disseminate such information for the wellbeing of the population,” he added.
He said they will ensure that Imams and Islamic scholars in the various regions are engaged and supported to use their influence and help in changing lives.
“We are also aware as a continent; Africa has its own problems. We are faced with the issues of migration and continued radicalisation of our youths who are the backbone of our continent,” he said.
This, among other things, he said call for the need for Africans to collaborate in ensuring that they solve the problem.
The forum in the Gambia, he said shows UNFPA’s commitment to build a better Gambia for every girl and every woman and also enable the country to harness its demographic dividend.
In her keynote address, the vice president Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang said The Gambia is committed to contributing towards the attainment of the sustainable development goals, especially goals 3,4 and 5 on good health, well-being, quality education and gender equality.
“One strategy through which the contribution can be achieved is the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls by ensuring their attainment of sexual and reproductive health to empower them to reach their full potentials before marriage,” she said.
This, she said cannot be achieved without the full support of all stakeholders including religious and traditional leaders.
She said the Gambia has manifested its commitment in implementing the international convention on all forms of violence against women and the international convention on the right of the child as well as the UN general convention on the elimination of FGM.
VP Jallow further stressed that social mobilisation will continue to be intensified, because deep rooted traditional practices like FGM, child marriage and gender based violence cannot be easily eliminated by legal instruments.