Fighting maternal mortality in Africa: the official launch of “A Call for Life” in Cotonou

December 7, 2011

From left to right:

Rotimy Djossaya, Manager of CARE Benin
Pr Dorothée Kindé Gazard, Minister of Health
Benjamin Schwartz, Director of Health Department
of CARE Atlanta and
Laure Monteiro, General Manager of Sanofi Bénin

An official ceremony was held on November 16 in Cotonou, Benin, under the patronage of Professor Dorothée Kindé GAZARD, Minister of Health, to announce the launch of the new “A Call for Life” program initiated by the NGO Care with support from the Sanofi Espoir Foundation.

The launch was attended by technical and financial partners, together with representatives of regional and local government institutions, including the Department of Maternal and Child Health of the Ministry of Health, the Zou Departmental Health Agency, the Municipality of Ouinhi and regional hospital board.

Rotimy Djossaya, Director of CARE Benin and Togo, introduced the “A Call for Life” pilot project which forms part of the more comprehensive "Mothers Matter" program dedicated to fighting maternal mortality. Laura Monteiro, the Head of Sanofi Benin, spoke on behalf of Sanofi Espoir Foundation about its commitment to this innovative project, to which the Foundation will allocate €893,000 over three years.

During her speech, the Minister of Health referred to the health situation of women in Benin and praised the relevance of this initiative aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality, one of her Ministry’s priorities. This pilot program will focus on the town of Ouinhi, one of the poorest towns in Benin where there is 67% healthcare coverage compared to 89% nationally. This means that for the areas’ 25,253 women, there is one general practitioner, five nurses and three midwives.

Ms. Rowena Luk, representing the technology partner Dimage, explained how mobile telephony could contribute to the project to enable better monitoring of pregnant women and newborn children from 35 villages in remote areas of the Ouinhi municipality, especially in warning of obstetric and neonatal emergencies.

UThis launch ceremony ended with a theatrical presentation, an original educational method of illustrating the need for close networking between all local stakeholders and the importance of community awareness of possible complications in pregnancy and childbirth.