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WHO hosts first African meeting to address the challenges of hemorrhage in pregnancy.

Representatives from over 40 countries met to review optimum strategies for combating maternal mortality resulting from hemorrhage.

In an important safer motherhood initiative, WHO invited representatives from over 40 African countries to attend a special conference in Luanda, Angola, 13-14th October, to consider the special challenges to maternal mortality faced in Africa as the result of hemorrhaging in pregnancy, during and after delivery. Organised by WHO Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) under the leadership of its Regional Director Dr Luis G. Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa, the purpose of the meeting was to define the problems, review effective strategies for improving clinical care and to consider how this initiative could be developed into an effective campaign to achieve a real improvement in maternal mortality in the African Region.

A forceful and effective dialogue

Held under the auspices of the Angolan Medical Society and with the active support of the Angolan Ministry of Health, the meeting provided a forceful dialogue, with clinicians sharing their experiences of the practical difficulties they confronted and the various options they found effective in overcoming them. There was unanimous agreement that current levels of maternal mortality were entirely unacceptable and that they could be dramatically improved by better education and increased competency skills of carers. At the same time, it was recognised that local circumstances could affect clinical care in different ways and that these needed to be taken into account when devising strategies and solutions.

Keynote speakers

The Keynote speaker for the conference was Professor Christopher B-Lynch from the United Kingdom, whose pioneering surgical technique has already made an important contribution to improved clinical outcomes. The conference, which was ably co-ordinated by Dr Tigest Ketsela, Director, Family and Reproductive Health Division in WHO/AFRO, also heard an important address from Dr Jose Van Dunen, the Angolan Minister of Health as well as from a number of other distinguished speakers. The full programme can be reviewed here.

Just the beginning more important developments will follow

At the conclusion of the conference, Dr Luis Sambo said that he was very pleased with the enthusiasm, focus and concern of all the delegates which had helped to make this meeting such a significant event. “I see this conference as in important first step of a new campaign to confront these issues,” he said. “This is just the beginning I hope that we can build on this conference to really expand our activities in the field and to develop a commission that can assist in translating our discussions and concern into effective action that will benefit patients throughout Africa.” The important conclusions of the conference, agreed at the end of the meeting, can be viewed here.