OPINION PIECE By: Dr. Benjamin Djoudalbaye, Acting Head, Division of AIDS, TB, Malaria and Other Infectious Diseases, African Union Commission; and Head of Policy and Health Diplomacy at Africa Centers…
May 10, 2020
Open Letter to Mothers in Africa
Dear Fellow Mothers in Africa,
A new dawn has arisen where our sanity, livelihoods and health systems are challenged now more than ever. Not so long ago we were pursuing prosperity and good health and now, we are balancing working remotely, running a household and taking on the role of primary educator – all with access to significantly less resources. This Mother’s Day, I extend a message of courage and strength to all mothers in Africa. We are in this together – and we will get through it together.
As COVID-19 reshapes our health systems in the coming months, I call on mothers holding leadership positions in Africa, to prioritise the needs of their fellow mothers in formulation of global health policies and interventions. Small adjustments can bring about lifelong changes. I applaud the African Union Member States that are establishing the priority testing of pregnant women with COVID-19 symptoms, the separation of maternity wards from wards with confirmed COVID-19 cases, the fast tracking of care for any pregnant woman with respiratory illnesses, and the provision of Emergency, Obstetric Care(EmOC) for all women who need it. Every new generation begins with a mother, therefore taking care of an expectant mother is nurturing the future.
Fellow mothers in Africa, I would like to reaffirm that the African Union Commission considers the good health of mothers as a key aspect of human and economic development in Africa. Prioritization of the needs of women and girls is a common objective of all African Union (AU) Member States, as mandated by the AU Agenda 2063 and Africa Health Strategy (2016-2030). In addition, the Commission is also implementing various campaigns that specifically address the challenges faced by mothers in Africa. These include: Free To Shine Campaign which reinforces the political commitment of African nations to end childhood AIDS and keep mothers healthy; The End Child Marriage Campaign and Campaign On Accelerated Reduction Of Maternal, Newborn And Child Mortality In Africa (CARMMA) whose slogan is “Africa Cares: No Woman Should Die While Giving Life.”
The Commission continues to engage high-level policymakers of AU Member States, to garner support and commitment to implement initiatives that empower mothers. Motherhood comes with a package of hard work that is often underappreciated. This Mother’s Day, I call on AU Member States to go the extra mile to ensure unrestricted and sustained access to family planning services. I further call on access to COVID-19 information and psychosocial counselling for mothers so that they can have the physical and mental health support they need. Overall, I call for support for Mothers of Africa, who are shouldering the community burden and are the principle care givers in the fight against the COVID pandemic.
Finally, on this Mothers’ Day, I applaud all the mothers and women in Africa who are part of the 70% of the global health workforce.Your action, passion and dedication to your practice is the difference between life and death for millions of people around the world, every day. In a salute to your commitment, I will continue to take action to encourage investments in leadership development, placement, and support for women in the health sector. I believe that when women are represented at the highest levels of leadership, attitudes towards all women, mothers and families will improve and more lives will be saved.
Fellow mothers in Africa, I hope this letter will spark inspiration in Africans to celebrate you, and know that the African Union Commission stands ready to support you. Happy Mother’s Day.
Mrs. Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil
Commissioner Social Affairs, African Union Commission