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Africa

2011-08-26

AFRICA/CONGO - The majority of indigenous women still give birth without any assistance

Brazzaville (Agenzia Fides) - While about 80% of Congolese women give birth in assisted health facilities, not even one out of four indigenous women benefit from health care throughout pregnancy until delivery included. According to a statement by the Inter Press News Service, in 2007, the indigenous inhabitants in Congo were 43.500, just under 2% of the entire population in the country that registers 3.7 million. To protect their rights, in February 2010, a law was adopted in its first article that "prohibits" the use of the name "pygmy" refered to the indigenous. Article 22 of this law guarantees access "without discrimination" to health services for these people, too. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in Congo less than 20% of indigenous women visit a medical center at least once during the whole period of their pregnancy. From a report carried out between April and May 2011, the Congolese Health Organization in Cuvette-Ouest, an NGO based in Mbomo, in the north of the country, underlines that out of 520 women of childbearing age, only eight gave birth in a health facility. In the communities there is a tradition of taking care of youself and traditions are still deeply rooted. According to local sources, in Paris, a village about 60 kilometers from Ouesso, every month 5 or 6 indigenous women are assisted at delivery by a midwife. To encourage these women to be assisted by qualified professionals, in two of the twelve administrative districts of the country, Lékoumou in the south and Sangha in the north, free antenatal and postnatal assistance have been assured. To support this initiative, UNFPA is providing a sanitary kit for indigenous pregnant women. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 26/08/2011)

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