Africa in the era of sustainable development

Published: Wednesday 19th April 2017

A functional community health system is helping Africa achieve universal health coverage and other UN sustainable development goals (SDGs)

Adolescent pregnancy is a key contributor to slow progress in maternal mortality. Adolescent pregnancy is wrought with complications and must remain an area of focus. (Image made by participants in the Youth Conference in March, courtesy of Amref Health Africa)

In the year 2000, world leaders committed to “spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty.” Fifteen years later, millions of lives have been saved and living conditions for many more improved across the world and more specifically in Africa. This globalised campaign on Millennium Development Goals has demonstrated that global campaigns can work to pull the world together for a common objective in the effort to ensure widespread gains against poverty and disease. However, gains have been sketchy especially in the developing world, where health indicators in particular were significantly below the MDG targets at the start of the campaign in 2000. Further, inequalities and disparities still muddy the successes observed.

“By empowering communities within Africa to take charge of their healthcare, organizations like Amref can increase the diversity of perspectives on this issue, giving communities the tools and expertise to solve the challenges that are most pressing for them.” said Amref Health Africa’s Group CEO Githinji Gitahi speaks at the Africa Health Agenda International Conference 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Health is a precondition, a practical indicator as well as an outcome of sustainable development. A key contributor to slow progress in maternal mortality is adolescent pregnancy. Adolescent childbearing remains high in sub-Saharan Africa, at 116 births per 1,000 adolescent girls in 2015, which is more than double the world’s average. Serious challenges in health persist in relation to the health of women and children, communicable diseases and infectious diseases that have long been eliminated or mitigated in other continents.