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Cameroon Should Mitigate Maternal Mortality Or Lose FCFA 450b – UN 

By Franca Sulem

The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, in Yaounde, has prospected a shortfall of US 1 billion Dollars (FCFA 450 billion) within five years, if Cameroon Government doesn’t intensify efforts in curbing maternal mortality. 

But if Government invests in the mitigation of maternal mortality, she stands to gain 479 Million US dollars, the UN agency states. The call for caution is contained in the 2010 edition of UNFPA’s Report known as Impact, published recently. In the report, maternal mortality was diagnosed as a bane, not only to the progress of the female folk, but to the entire nation.

Going by the report, the rate of maternal mortality in Cameroon has doubled in the last decade as a pregnant woman dies of complications every two hours. It was equally revealed that 52 percent of women have been victims of marital violence, while 50.2 percent suffer from economic violence and 30.8 percent have been subjected to sexual violence 

Other impediments like the victimisation of women by obnoxious customs like female genital mutilation and forced marriages, discrimination in terms of education due to poverty, little access to job opportunities and unwanted pregnancies, amongst others, have also been identified.

The Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Marie-Therese Abena Obama, stated in an interview in the report, that women are very significant in the Cameroonian society as they do not only represent a greater portion (50.5 percent) of the population but also contribute 75 percent to agricultural development and 80 percent food production. She revealed that, despite the many obstacles, improvements in the living standards of women have been registered.

"As far as the economy is concerned, we have registered that the rate of salary activities done by women have increased from 20.3 percent in 2005 to 21.4 percent in 2007". The Minister further stated that there has been a rise in women’s involvement in decision-making positions, despite the fact that only 25 out of 180 women constitute the Parliament.

Thanking UNFPA for its vital technical and financial assistance in the curbing of women’s problems, Abena Obama urged individuals, NGOs, as well as national and international bodies, to fight for gender equality. Alain Sibenaler, UNFPA’s Representative in Cameroon, said three main things are being done to help women in Cameroon.

They include sensitisation and free or relatively cheap treatment of pre-natal and neo-natal diseases, promotion of gender equality by encouraging female involvement in decision-making and, combating violence through their institutions. He added that UNFPA has entered into partnership with Government ministries in Cameroon to ensure that the social and economic status of Cameroonian women is boosted.

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