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Sub-Saharan Africa

Current projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as details of RCOG International Representative Committees and Liaison Groups in the region. You’ll also find information about volunteering opportunities, the work other people are doing overseas and how to get in touch with them.

International Representative Committees (IRCs)

  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • Sudan
  • Zimbabwe

Liaison Groups (LGs)

  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • Sudan

Top women’s health concerns and challenges, identified by our committees:

  • Maternal Mortality (MM)
  • Family Planning/Contraception
  • Adolescent sexual and reproductive health
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Caesarean Section (CS) providers
  • Gender based violence (GBV)

Maternal mortality (MM) was one of the most pressing concerns IRCs voiced, as more than half of all maternal deaths in the world occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, 80% of these deaths are from preventable causes. This issue is particularly prevalent in rural areas where women do not have access to adequate care. Women die or are left with life threatening debilitations, as a result of untreated complications, such as severe bleeding, infections, unsafe abortion, etc.

Family Planning/Contraception is a major issue in Sub-Saharan Africa as many women do not have access to these services due to issues such as travel distance, unequipped medical centres, stigma, education of methods, etc. Access must be expanded to Family Planning and the quality improved.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Identification and treatment of this disease is very poor and has contributed to high maternal mortality numbers.

Lack of qualified providers for CS is an additional contributor to the sub-Saharan Africa MM rate. This procedure is vital to avert major obstetric complications that lead to maternal, neonatal, and/or fetal death. Limited access to health care, information on CS and a lack of equipment are additional factors that impede rise of CS providers.

Adolescent sexual and reproductive health is an area that is rarely addressed, despite the predominant challenges girls face such as early pregnancy, STDs, HIV and difficulties accessing family planning services. Young people often do not receive support from their community and healthcare workers can oftentimes present further barriers to overcome these challenges.

Chairs cited GBV as a major health concern for girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa, as the region lacks medical professionals who are trained in caring for survivors of GBV, both medically and psychologically.