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EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, announced a new €42 million programme for the significant reduction of maternal mortality during today’s meeting with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia and the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Liberia has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world and this ambitious programme aims to reduce it in half, targeting at 375 per 100,000 live births from the current level of 770 per 100,000.
Commissioner Piebalgs said: “I am delighted to meet President Sirleaf, who has made great efforts to stabilise Liberia and promote women’s rights and whose actions have inspired hope in the country and beyond. I will encourage the President to pursue her efforts towards national reconciliation and the fight against corruption.” And added: “I am also glad to announce that the European Commission will shortly adopt a new programme that will help the government to save the lives of thousands of mothers who would otherwise die around the time of childbirth.”
With about four women dying every day in Liberia from child birth or pregnancy related conditions and only 37% of deliveries taking place in health facilities with only 46% of births being attended by people who have received training, the need to take action is urgent. As a result, the funds will be used for establishing rehabilitating health centres, providing medical equipment, training health staff and many other activities with the purpose of improving health services in the country.
Commissioner Piebalgs has also expressed EU’s support to the Liberian government’s agenda for state building and reconstruction, as well as for President Sirleaf’s reform efforts in the forestry sector and in the fight against illegal timber exports from Liberia. EU has previously signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with Liberia and provided €17 million for the elimination of illegal timber exports from Liberia to the EU and the improvement of the forestry sector.
Source: New Europe