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Burundi's first lady rallies support for women's health, malnutrition in Africa.

Burundian First Lady Angeline Ndayishimiye has reiterated that the health and nutrition of women, newborns, infants and adolescents in Africa remains a prime concern. She made the remark on Monday, October 10 2022, at the launch of the 3rd edition of the high-level Women Leaders Forum, taking place in Burundi's commercial capital, Bujumbura.

The First Lady who is also chairperson of the Office of the First Lady for Development in Burundi (OPDD-Burundi), thanked participants and called for more support for the initiative which aims to promote and improve health in general and the well-being of women, children and adolescents in particular, as well as socio-economic empowerment around Africa and in Burundi.

"Maternal, neonatal and child deaths are still high beyond the targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)" said the First Lady. Noting that this situation costs enormous money to governments and communities in terms of productivity.

Mrs Ndayishimiye said the office of the First Lady for Development in Burundi (OPDD-Burundi) spares no effort to support the Government to reverse the trends in Burundi while encouraging her fellow First Ladies of Africa to "act in this direction".

According to the UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mohamed Fall, the forum is held in Bujumbura at a time when the health care and nutrition systems in this region are facing great challenges.

This he says includes vaccination coverage against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough in children under five, which declined between 2019 and 2021, leaving many children without any protection against preventable diseases.

Meanwhile, the United Nations resident coordinator in Burundi, Damien Mama, on his part, congratulated Burundi for the progress made so far in terms of improving the health of women and newborns. He highlighted that Burundi has reduced maternal mortality from 500 to 334 per 100,000 live births as well as infant mortality from 59 to 47 per 1000 live births.

The 3-day forum has participants from around Africa, including, the First Lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari, the former First Lady of Tanzania, Salma Kikwete, delegates from the First Ladies of Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, as well as senior state officials, ministers and women leaders from different sectors.