• Saturday, August 30, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    BURKINA FASO: Cost Major Obstacle to Reducing Maternal Mortality

    By Brahima Ouédraogo
    OUAGADOUGOU, Nov 9 (IPS) Elizabeth Kaboré says she has paid for each
    of her visits to the clinic, despite a government promise that prenatal
    check-ups in health centres would be free.

    "Far from being free, at each consultation, I've had to pay 600
    CFA francs (around $1.20) to see the midwives," says Kaboré,
    several months pregnant. "For an injection, I pay 100 FCFA and the
    mid-wife explained to me that this money was for the guards at the
    facility."
     
    Human rights organisation Amnesty International points to financial
    obstacles as one of the leading obstacles preventing the reduction of high
    rates of maternal mortality in Burkina Faso.

    "In our society, it's men who decide; women never have the
    power. Women are deprived of a number of their rights, and we are
    demanding that they be respected," said Gaétan Moutou, a
    researcher for Amnesty International.

    According to figures from the Ministry of Health, 307 women die for every
    100,000 live births, around 2,000 deaths each year.

    According to Moutou, financial obstacles are the principal hurdle to
    women's access to care. He has seen firsthand the effect of subsidies
    for maternal care in various regions of the country, leadingto many more
    women presenting themselves at health centres for check-ups.
     
    In 2006, the government adopted a subsidy, envisioning covering 80 percent
    of the cost of giving birth – and making it completely free for the
    poorest women, according to the ministry.

    The government does what it can within its means, says Dr Souleymane
    Sanou, the director-general of health in Burkina. "If donor partners
    can help us, that would be welcome."

    But according to Amnesty, the existence of the policy is not well known,
    and people are often exploited by unscrupulous health workers. Amnesty
    also feels that the lack of clear criteria to determine who the
    beneficiaries should be, and the share of the cost (20 percent must be
    paid by women seeking care) remains an important obstacle.

    The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, which finances reproductive
    health issues, recognises that there is a problem, but believes solutions.

    "It's true that financial obstacles exist, and putting effective
    measures in place is difficult," says Olga Sankara, programme manager
    at the UNFPA office in Ouagadougou.

    The UNFPA has supported a communication campaign by the Ministry of Health
    to better inform people so that they are not exploited, Sankara told IPS.
     
    Amnesty International has also called on the Burkinabé government to
    extend and improve access of women to family planning.

    The health ministry confirms that the prevalence rate for contraceptives
    is growing, but remains low. Just over 14 percent of women in Burkina Faso
    have access.

    According the the national programme for health development, the objective
    is to raise the rate of contraceptive use from six percent in 1998 to 19
    percent in 2015.

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