Thematic file

Stand up for African mothers

International campaign against maternal mortality

In Africa, a woman is 110 times more likely to die in childbirth than in Europe. This is a tragedy for families and a serious handicap for the development of African countries. To fight against this injustice, the Sanofi Espoir Foundation has partnered the Stand Up for African Mothers campaign that aims to train 15,000 midwives by 2015 and reduce maternal mortality by 25%.

In high income countries we take medical care during pregnancy and childbirth for granted, but they are an exception in sub-Saharan Africa where, each year:

  • 200,000 mothers die during pregnancy or childbirth due to lack of access to the most basic healthcare
  • 1.5 million African children are left motherless
  • Nearly one in every two women gives birth alone, without help or medical assistance (95% in southern Sudan)

This is the greatest inequality in the world, and is even worsening in some African countries where the risk of death during childbirth is increasing. This intolerable situation not only affects millions of children orphaned from birth, but also punishes the African continent as a whole because women stand at the heart of African communities as givers of life, water, education and care for their families. It is they who underwrite the economic and social development of the entire continent.

Yet most of these deaths could be prevented by means of simple solutions. Over 80% arise from complications that could be treated in health facilities with basic emergency and obstetric services. Through affordable training and the provision of suitable equipment, it is possible to save lives. In other words, if Africa needs these mothers, then the mothers themselves need midwives.


Save the lives of Africa mothers by training 15,000 midwives by 2015

Judging by current trends, Sub-Saharan Africa will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. MDGs 4 and 5, which aim to reduce maternal and infant mortality, are the areas where least progress is being made. If nothing is done, goal 4, which addresses infant mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa, will not be achieved until 2165. Goal 5, which aims to "improve maternal health”, is itself hopelessly out of reach. Only 2% of development aid goes to maternal health, yet investing in the health of women can strengthens families, communities and whole countries. Family budgets, local productivity and all form of national wealth flourish where maternal health is a priority.

To support the continent in this fight against maternal mortality, Sanofi Espoir Foundation is aiding several large-scale programs in Africa. For example, it has been helping train midwives for three years now together with AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation) and has decided to join the “Stand Up for African Mothers” campaign to raise awareness in public opinion about the need for firm action to save the lives of so many mothers and children in danger. The goal is to train 15,000 midwives by 2015, the symbolic year of the Millennium Development Goals. In practice, one trained midwife helps 500 women each year. This would reduce maternal mortality by an estimated 25%.

Training is being provided in fifteen countries in West, East and Central Africa, with the priority on those areas that most desperately lack midwives. A target number of midwives has been set for each country, in partnership with Ministries of Health and Education. The curriculum will be tailored to each country and depending on the circumstances, it will last 18 months for a community midwife, 30 months for a midwife semi-professional, and 4 to 5 years for a professional midwife. E-learning is being used to upgrade inadequately skilled midwives and nurses in countries such as Uganda and Senegal.


AMREF, the first public health NGO in Africa

AMREF Flying Doctors was founded in 1957 to help the most isolated communities in Africa. In the last 55 years, the NGO has trained tens of thousands of doctors, nurses, community health workers and midwives. Considered as the first African international humanitarian movement (with 7 million beneficiaries, 10,000 health workers trained each year, four training centers for students from 35 African countries), it is committed to sustainable health improvements in African communities.


Sign the petition

Let’s award the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 to African midwives who are fighting on behalf of mothers in Africa at

Our target is 1 million signatories by 2015.