Congo – With so much progress being made in the world it is disheartening to learn of countries were the already tragic problem of maternal mortality is getting worse. Raising our collective awareness of the problems that contribute to increased deaths is important. Hopefully the patterns can corrected here and avoided in other countries.

Congo-Dr-Vindu-and-babyThe Republic of the Congo gained independence in 1960. Following Russia’s lead the people organized as a socialist republic. In 1990 Marxism was abandoned and a free –market economy and democratically elected officials were established1. At that point in 1990, the maternal mortality rate was already exceptionally high at 420 deaths per 100,00 births. Since then the rate has increased to 560 deaths per 100,000 live births2. These official estimates appear to under-count other surveys which suggest that the maternal mortality rates may have been as high as 781 deaths per 100,000 births34.

A combination of extremely fertility rates, lack of infrastructure, poor education combined with negative cultural practice all contribute to rising maternal mortality rates.

Women are not educated on reproductive health, general education to help provide for their family, nor specialized care to help identity or treat maladies specific to childbirth5. Women are expected to bear children6. Women cannot say no to sex7, and regardless of the health of the mother or her ability to take care of children she cannot control her fertility8. These conditions have contributed to a rapid increase in AIDS/HIV cases among women, as well as an increase in the number of clandestine abortions9. These cultural and legal factors, the limited human and financial resources dedicated to maternal mortality reduction, contribute to the increased rate of maternal mortality10.

On a positive note, organizations such as the UNFPA, in conjunction with civil society organizations like the IPPF and White Ribbon Alliance, have allocated additional resources in a concerted effort to improve health conditions for mothers. CARMMA was officially launched in the Congo in 2010. “CARMMA uses policy discussions, advocacy and community social mobilization to enlist political commitment. It aims to increase resources and bring about societal change in support of maternal health. It is a country-driven undertaking. All African countries are to launch CARMMA and have a follow-up implementation plan, as well as to monitor progress”11.


 

  1. CIA World Factbook 
  2. WHO 
  3. United States Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights, Accessed: 11 November 2012, 19.0 
  4. Depending on the source examined it is also possible the rate is coming down, although it is difficult to assess given the lack of infrastructure and standardized reporting requirements 
  5. CEDAW 2002 90 
  6. The World Bank, World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development, The World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2011, 17 September 2012) 76 
  7. Global Campaign for Education. 2004.
    Learning to Survive: How Education for All would save millions of young people from HIV/AIDS. p. 2 
  8. UN Committee on the Elimination of, Concluding observations of the Committee on the, 1 March 2012 
  9. ibid 
  10. UN, Congo: Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Concluding Observations, 2006) 42, 58 
  11. UNFPA 

  1. CIA World Factbook 

  2. WHO 

  3. United States Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights, Accessed: 11 November 2012, 19.0 

  4. Depending on the source examined it is also possible the rate is coming down, although it is difficult to assess given the lack of infrastructure and standardized reporting requirements 

  5. CEDAW 2002 90 

  6. The World Bank, World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development, The World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2011, 17 September 2012) 76 

  7. Global Campaign for Education. 2004.
    Learning to Survive: How Education for All would save millions of young people from HIV/AIDS. p. 2 

  8. UN Committee on the Elimination of, Concluding observations of the Committee on the, 1 March 2012 

  9. ibid 

  10. UN, Congo: Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Concluding Observations, 2006) 42, 58 

  11. UNFPA