The Pharmacist’s Contribution to Maternal Health in Africa

The Pharmacist’s Contribution to Maternal Health in Africa

Since the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 significant progress has been made in reducing child mortality and maternal mortality. However, there is still a long way to go. Every year, nearly 300,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth. Of these two thirds die in sub-Saharan Africa, where a woman has a 1 in 38 lifetime risk of maternal death compared to the 1 in 3700 lifetime risk for women living in developed regions. This paper explores the issues in relation to maternal health and mortality and describes the range of interventions that pharmacists can make in contributing to better health care outcomes for mothers, neonates and children.

 

This is the fifth in a series of feature articles and explores the important issue of maternal health particularly from an African perspective. The paper tracks the impact of the actions emanating from the Millennium Goals where in some cases maternal mortality has been reduced by 75% two years ahead of schedule. It also elaborates the range of factors that contribute to maternal death, noting that the majority of deaths are preventable given the appropriate intervention. It is in this context that the specific contribution of the pharmacist is highlighted particularly to identify the areas where pharmaceutical intervention can make a significant difference, for example, the use of vitamin and nutritional substances and the management of medicines during pregnancy. The author urges pharmacists not to undervalue their contribution, but to recognize that what they do in their everyday practice is critical to health outcomes in all their patients, including pregnant women and children.

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