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ImpactHealth

Global Citizen gets Colombia to commit to improve maternal and child health

Flickr: Darren Johnson

Global citizens campaigned to improve the maternal and newborn mortality rate of Colombia, especially in rural areas, in support of Every Woman Every Child and the UN Secretary General’s updated Global Strategy. In response, President Santos’ commitment at 2015 Global Citizen Festival is set to affect 2.3 million women and children’s lives by 2021.

Ahead of 2015 Citizen Festival, global citizens campaigned to improve the maternal and newborn mortality rate of Colombia, especially in rural areas, in support of Every Woman Every Child and the UN Secretary General’s updated Global Strategy.  

Global citizens directed over 34,000 emails to President Santos of Colombia about the health of his nation, particularly of women and girls and maternal and newborn health.

Via video message at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos personally acknowledged global citizens campaigning and made a commitment to reducing the nation’s maternal mortality rate in rural areas by 25% by 2018, saying:

“It is because of you...Many of you have written to me. You expressed a concern that we share deeply in our hearts. My dear global citizens, I hear you. Colombia hears you. So I will make a pledge to you today. The government of Colombia commits itself to establishing a very concrete goal to achieve by the year 2018 to reduce by 25%.

He also committed to:

  • Reducing Colombia’s teenage pregnancy rate by women aged 15-19 from 84 births per 1,000 women in 2010 to 61 per 1,000 births by 2021.

  • Increasing Colombia’s use of modern family planning methods in women aged 15-49 from 57% in 2010 to 80% in 2021.

  • Decreasing Colombia’s infant mortality rate from 17 for every 1,000 births to less than 15 by 2021.

  • Reducing the prevalence of chronic malnutrition in Colombia’s under-5 children from 13% in 2010 to 8% in 2021.

At the link is a copy of President Santos’ original commitment letter to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon.

This commitment is set to affect the lives of  2.3 million women, children and adolescents through improved health and well-being, especially those living in rural areas. This is significant because one fifth of Colombia’s population live in rural areas, and one third of Colombians live below the extreme poverty line. Extreme poverty, inadequate access to sanitation, limited infrastructure supporting access to modern contraceptives, maternal and natal health needs combined with unplanned teen pregnancies and malnutrition are known factors contributing to Colombia’s poor track record on maternal and child mortality rates.

Our partnership with Every Woman Every Child enabled this commitment to align with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s updated Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health 2016-2030 which launched during the 2015 UN General Assembly. Colombia’s commitment was also the first Latin American country to pledge a commitment to Every Woman Every Child, which may help open the door to similar commitments across the Latin American region, which can be monitored here.

Since 2015 Global Citizen Festival the Colombian government has rolled out a strategy called “Integral de Atención de Salud,” which aims to provide comprehensive maternal and perinatal care for the highest at-risk groups in rural areas, targeting municipalities to strengthen and build appropriate services and healthcare resources to treat preventable complications like sepsis, hemorrhaging and eclampsia. The strategy includes a developed clinical safety model for prevention and medical management of obstetric emergencies, encouraging provision of critical inputs, protocols and institutional routines to address the most frequent obstetric emergencies in Colombia. n the strategy’s target regions, high efficiency and low cost emergency response kits have been delivered, alongside government supported trainings and workshops facilitated by clinical experts and health professionals to improve management capabilities for contraception, preconception care, prenatal care, delivery and postpartum care, and standardizing the management of major obstetric and neonatal complications. These efforts are on track to meet the targets set by this commitment, specifically:

  1. Workshops providing theoretical and practical training, led by leading members of the health secretaries in various provinces, such as Cauca, Guajira, Valle del Cauca and Catatumbo.

  2. The development of a Participatory Community Diagnosis (DCP), established after a series of round tables and focus groups in the communities outlined above.

  3. Development of contractual processes for acquiring emergency obstetric kits.

  4. Recruitment of 11 maternal health managers to track land management on maternal health (model implementation and harmonization of clinical safety and monitoring local plans to reduce maternal mortality) in the selected clusters.

  5. In April 2016, teams were formed to provide training under simulation scenarios, with recommendations for prevention, early detection, and management of major obstetric complications, began in the selected communities.

This strategy was developed in partnership with with multilateral organizations including Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), who contributed their expertise in developing strategies for vulnerable and rural populations (IOM) and specific strategies such as the "Women’s Empowerment for Individuals Family and Community" (MIFC). The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) also supported on capacity building to guarantee the right to IVE in the context of eliminating unsafe abortion and access to contraception. The government of Colombia also worked with the Colombian Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FECOLSOG), Colombian Society of Anesthesiology (ASA), Colombian Association of Critical Care Medicine and Intensive Care (AMCI), who have driven technical strategies for improving medical skills in the prevention and management of obstetric emergencies, including its deployment in priority territories, as well as some universities, including University of Antioquia.