In Cotonou, Benin, at the Congress of the African Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (SAGO), in the Palais des Congres, December 13-18, 2004, I received a very warm welcome from Madame Laurence Odounlami Monteiro, President of the Association of Midwives of Benin, and the President of the Congress, Professor Alihonou. This visit to the 8th Congress of SAGO was most enriching and demonstrated the amount of activity focusing on reduction of maternal and infant mortality, carried out by these associations of health professionals. Among the African countries represented were Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.
The main themes of the scientific programme included:
* Active management of the third stage of labour
* Complications of pregnancy and delivery
* Collaboration between obstetricians, midwives and paediatricians to achieve reduction in neonatal mortality
* The Millennium Development Goals concerning maternal and neonatal health in Africa
* Awareness of obstetrical fistula in the antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal periods
* HIV: prevention of mother-to-child transmission
* A round table discussion on the reduction of complications of abortion
* A workshop on human rights and the ethics of sexual and reproductive health (WHO).
My attendance at this congress was connected with the joint global initiative for prevention and treatment of postpartum haemorrhage being taken forward by ICM and FIGO (represented by Dr Andre Lalonde). The initiative was launched on Monday, December 13, in the presence of the Minister of Health of Benin. Also associated with it was the Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of Benin and Togo (SGOBT).
Before an audience of around 1,000 participants, both midwives and obstetricians, this initiative was taken on, in the context of Africa, where still so many women and children die during that vulnerable period of their lives.
The objectives were to:
* Present the ICM/FIGO consensus on postpartum haemorrhage (PPH)
* Invite the member associations, the government representatives and the representatives from non-governmental organisations who work in the field of safe motherhood, to give official support by signing the consensus declaration
* Raise awareness among the participating delegates about the epidemiology of PPH and about the medical and surgical approaches...