Save the Children commends African heads of state for pledging at the African Union summit to take concrete actions to reduce maternal and child mortality in their countries.  Now they must follow through, the international humanitarian agency said.

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African leaders have pledged to eliminate maternal and child mortality before 2015.

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Bonolo Cebe, 18, of South Africa is one of the three young delegates selected by their peers to present a call to action to leaders at the 15th session of the Assembly of African Union Summit this Sunday, 25 July. Over 100 young people from 40 countries drafted the message earlier this week in Uganda, at the first-ever African Youth Forum, or AYF.

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Maternal and child deaths are killing more people across the continent than conflicts, the African Union revealed yesterday. More than 500,000 women a year die in childbirth across the globe, almost exclusively in developing countries in Africa. Another 12,000 children die on the continent every day, mainly from treatable conditions like malaria, pneumonia and respiratory tract infections.

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African Heads of State will devote at least four hours of their time to discuss maternal and child health challenges in Africa when they meet on Sunday.

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African heads of state can and must take clear actions to end the majority of the continent's annual 4.5 million child deaths and 265,000 maternal deaths, Save the Children said. African heads of state will meet Sunday to Tuesday in Kampala at the 15th African Union Summit themed "Maternal, Infant, and Child Health and Development in Africa."

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President Jacob Zuma will this weekend lead a South African delegation to the 15th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly, which is expected to address Africa's poor maternal care record.

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Delegates to the 4th African Union pre-summit on Gender met on July 19 at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala to discuss "Maternal, Infant and Child Health: African Youth Call for Action".

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In the aftermath of the Kampala terrorist attacks, Save the Children and other civil society groups have postponed plans for a Friday public rally to promote maternal, newborn, and child health in Africa. The rally had been set to precede the gathering of heads of state in Kampala during the July 19-27 African Union Summit, the theme of which is "Maternal, Infant, and Child Health and Development in Africa."

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African leaders must act now to save the lives of mothers, newborns and children, say people’s organisations from across the continent.

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