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Interview: China's progress in maternal health crucial lesson for Africa: Board Chair of PMNCH
November 11,2019   By:Xinhua
NAIROBI, Nov. 11, 2019 -- African nations can draw lessons from China to advance their maternal health agenda through robust policies that encourage access to contraceptives and other reproductive health services for women, Helen Clark, Board Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) said on Saturday.
 
Clark, who was former New Zealand Prime Minister and first female United Nations Development Program (UNDP) administrator, said that China's success in family planning and economic empowerment of women is an inspiration for bilateral partners in Africa.
 
"China has been very proactive on access to family planning services. Women in China have access to the services they need and the country became a more prosperous middle-income economy because of investing heavily in women," said Clark.
 
She spoke to Xinhua ahead of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD 25) to be held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi from Nov.12 to 14.
 
The three-day global population summit that will be attended by heads of state and government, ministers and donors are expected to revitalize the reproductive health agenda for women and girls.
 
Clark said that China has become a trailblazer in women's health thanks to greater access to modern birth control methods, economic opportunities and formal education.
 
She said that African countries can borrow a leaf from China's economic reforms and targeted investment in programs that promote reproductive health of women in their bid to respond effectively to maternal health challenges.
 
"China has had effective planning and it has been very clear about its objectives. Investments in education and health. Ensuring that women did not face a lifetime of unwanted pregnancies, all those lessons are vital for Africa," said Clarke.
 
The Nairobi population summit is expected to review progress in the implementation of the plan of action adopted in the Egyptian capital of Cairo in 1994 to increase access to contraceptives and eradicate harmful practices that are a threat to health of women and girls.
 
Clark said that governments and donors attending the summit should renew funding commitment towards reproductive health services and reduce maternal deaths rampant in many African countries.
 
"A lot has happened since 1994 and it will be nice to see an evolution of international agreements," said Clark.
 
She said that radical measures are required to expand access to contraceptives among African women in order to reduce fatalities linked to unattended births and unsafe abortions.
 
"Focusing on sexual and reproductive health rights for women is extremely important for Africa and I hope governments will implement proposals that will be made at the summit," said Clark.
 
She said that affirmative action combined with political goodwill and targeted investments is key to revitalize the reproductive health agenda that has the potential to transform lives of African women and girls.
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