PROMOTING A HEALTHY FAMILY AND A FIGHT AGAINST MATERNAL AND
NEONATAL MORTALITY IN THE NORTH WEST REGION OF CAMEROON
A REPORT ON AN OUTREACH CAMPAIGN TO INCREASE AWARENESS ON THE
IMPORTANCE OF PREMARITAL SCREENING AND THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY
PLANNING AS A MEANS TO DECREASE UNWANTED PREGNANCIES AND
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION.
Marriage is the fundamental building block of society and the cornerstone in building
emotional, healthy and family relationships (1). A healthy marriage guarantees to prevent the
family members from hereditary and infectious diseases, thus building a happy and stable
family. Premarital screening is defined as testing couples who are planning to get married soon
for some common genetic blood disorders (e.g. sickle cell anemia and thalassemia) and
infectious diseases (e.g. hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections)
(1). Thus, it is aimed at decreasing the spread of these diseases from one spouse to the other and
even from mother to child. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a public health priority as declared by the
World Health Organization (WHO) due to its high birth prevalence. The disease is most frequently
found in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where approximately 15 million people out of the estimated
25 million worldwide live (2,3). Africa has high mortality rates ranging from 50 to 90% for those
aged less than 5 years. Cameroon has a high carrier frequency of SCD (20- 30%), as reported by
WHO in 2006 (4). It is the 6th country with the highest number of sickle cell births per year. As
such, prevention through an increasing rate of premarital screening is ideal.
Maternal death or maternal mortality is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the
death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of
the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy
or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes (5). Maternal mortality is
unacceptably high. About 295 000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth in
2017 (6). According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 2017 report, about one
woman dies every two minutes. For every woman who dies, 20 or 30% encounter
complications with serious or long-lasting consequences. Most of these deaths and injuries are
entirely preventable. The vast majority of these deaths (94%) occurred in low-resource settings.
Women die as a result of complications during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Most of
these complications develop during pregnancy (6). The major complications that account for
nearly 75% of all maternal deaths are (4):
- severe bleeding (mostly bleeding after childbirth)
- infections (usually after childbirth)
- high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia)
- complications from delivery
- unsafe abortion.
Unsafe abortion is a major cause of maternal death. According to WHO 2020 report, 3 out of
10 (29%) of all pregnancies and 6 out of 10 (61%) of all unintended pregnancies ended in an
induced abortion. Among these, 1 out of 3 were carried out in the least safe or dangerous
conditions. And 3 out of 4 abortions that occurred in Africa and Latin America were unsafe (6).
Thus, increased awareness of the importance of family planning serves as a means to decrease
unwanted pregnancies and STIs with the aim of decreasing maternal mortality.
- Prevent the spread of some genetic disorders and some infectious diseases.
- Decrease infant mortality related to diseases
- Promote awareness of a comprehensive healthy family
- Reduce the financial burden on families whose children suffer
- Reduce psychological trauma which occurs in families with affected children.
- Comprehensive sexuality education
- Importance of family planning and the various types of planning to prevent unwanted
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION
The organization is called Talk Pregnancy with Dr Noella, founded by Gwanyama Noella
Ngendab Bobimwo. She is a medical doctor at the Regional Hospital Bamenda in Cameroon, a
Gender-Based Violence Expert and Certified trainer for Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion
Care. She is passionate about the health of mothers, children and adolescents. Her inspiration for
the creation of the organization was based on her own pregnancy story. Thus, aimed to fight
against mother and child deaths and improve sexual and reproductive health rights among
adolescents. The organization was founded on the 31st of July 2020. The organization is made up
of 11 members alongside volunteers.
A flyer was made announcing the outreach program. On topics: premarital screening and
the importance of family planning. This was posted on our main social media pages and other
platforms. Also, sensitization was done in some churches. There was a total of 40 participants, including men and women aged 20 years and above.