Africa: Challenges of Culture and Conscience


(Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights / Tradition, Culture, Religion)

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In Biblical times, the Prophet Hosea lamented, “[M]y people die for lack of knowledge.” In the 21st century, African women are dying for lack of knowledge, but also in the name of religion.

In my life as an African woman, a physician and former minister of health in Ghana—and more recently in my work as an advocate for sexual and reproductive rights—I have seen too many African women die a senseless and painful death because they were unable to realize their reproductive rights.

Thousands of African women die every year from preventable pregnancy-related causes because religious leaders prevent politicians and policymakers from passing laws and implementing services needed to save them. The African Union’s latest Maternal Newborn and Child Health Status Report shows that most countries in Africa have seen reductions in maternal mortality, although the average rate remains exceedingly high at more than 500 deaths per 100,000 live births, amounting to 56 percent of total global maternal mortality.

Read the full article, by Eunice Brookman-Amissah (former minister of health in Ghana and former president of Ipas), at Conscience.