April 2, 2021


3 min read

UNFPA worried about Lesotho high maternal mortality rate

UNFPA worried about Lesotho high maternal mortality rate

UNFPA representative to Lesotho Dr Marc Derveeuw

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THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Regional Director for East and Southern Africa Dr Julitta Onabanjo has expressed concern about Lesotho’s high maternal mortality rate which sees 618 deaths in every 100 000 born children.

She said the country seems unable to end preventable maternal deaths which remain the highest in Southern Africa.

Dr Onabanjo said the plan is to reach the Sustainable Development Goal 3.1 - to reduce global maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100 000 live births.

This, she said during a two-day annual review meeting with implementing partners which began on Monday.

She added, “So in Lesotho you cannot achieve economic growth or sustainable development if you continue to lose those lives of women due to complications of pregnancy and child birth.”

The Regional Director also expressed solidarity to the government of Lesotho for the lives lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We join in solidarity as we acknowledge the suffering but also the good efforts the country has made such as the vaccine roll out which is impressive and the expansion of the vaccination coverage for especially the front line health workers and the most vulnerable.”

Dr Onabanjo also applauded Lesotho for its participation in the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, stating that it was an opportunity to recommit to the unfinished agenda of rights and choices.

“We appreciate the Lesotho delegation to the Nairobi summit, Her Majesty Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso was excellent and one of the two royals that were there. She was dynamic in what she presented and her engagement. We were really humbled,” she adds.

On the young people of Lesotho she said: “they came and were the first to actually put forward a national youth commitment to the summit. We continue to take pride in what they said and how forward looking, how advanced they committed and the accountability and responsibility they took on themselves.”

Speaking at the same forum, the UNFPA Representative to Lesotho Dr Marc Derveeuw recognised all the good work done by all the implementing partners in particular the Ministry of Development Planning for assisting and strengthening UNFPA programme and fulfilling its mandate in a continuous way especially because 2020 was not a normal year.

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“We were able to step up our budgets and the amount of funds we gave to the Ministry of Health enabled them to free more funds to addressing issues related to COVID19. We were also able to step up our programmes to addressing gender based violence drawing attention initially to violence happening at border posts when young women were coming back from South Africa trying to cross legally and sometimes illegally,” he added.

Dr Derveeuw said the UNFPA is lucky to have received additional funds from the Chinese government which will be rolled-out in 2021 with particular focus to helping the government in prevention of COVID19 infections with special focus on midwives.

The Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Development Planning Sello Tšukulu noted that the COVID-19 pandemic exerted enormous pressure on the government and different activities were halted.

He expressed hope that normalcy would soon be restored due to vaccination.

The implementing partners, who participated virtually in the meeting included the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Training, the Lesotho Red Cross Society (LRCS), World Vision, the Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association, Gender Links, Help Lesotho and LENEPWA.


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