Malawi achieving MDG 4

The United Nations disclosed this in Lilongwe recently during the launch of a policy called “Integrated Management of Childhood Illness”, aimed at accelerating child survival and development further more.

Malawi is among four sub-Saharan African countries that have achieved a rate of reduction of child deaths above 5 percent each year since 2000 when leaders all over the world agreed to the millennium goals and made millennium declarations.

The other countries are Tanzania, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

World Health Organisation representative to Malawi Matshidiso Moeti said in an interview this was good news for the country.

She said the development was a result of political will which made the government and other stakeholders invest in the health sector.

United Children Fund (Unicef) country representative Aida Girma said Malawi had managed to address the unacceptable toll of child mortality as the goal which calls for a two-third reduction in child deaths by the year 2015.

Despite the drop in child mortality, the two UN officials said the country has to do a lot more.

Girma said although Malawi has made great strides in the last few years to improve child survival, the number of children still dying is not good news.

“Although mortality rates among under-five children and infants have declined every year, one in eight children under the age of five still dies of a few easily preventable and/or treatable diseases,” said Girma.

She said at 982 per 100,000 live births, maternal mortality still remained high and this was contributing to the high mortality among newborns.

The two officials said because of the need to keep improving, the country had seen it fit to launch the policy for accelerated survival and development.

Moeti said among other things, the policy seeks to further contribute in reducing childhood mortality and morbidity rates by two-thirds by 2015.

She observed that about 73,200 children below the age of five die every year in the country. She said this was unacceptable.

“While the leading causes of infant deaths are pneumonia, malaria, diarrhoea and neo-natal problems, malnutrition and AIDS remain the main underlying factors in these deaths,” she said.

Girma said the approach of integrated management of childhood illness would enable Malawi to scale up simple and low cost-effective interventions such as immunisation, vitamin A supplement, promotion of exclusive breastfeeding and insecticide-treated nets in order to reduce child death.

The Unicef representative said the MDGs were primarily about giving children a better future thus allowing every child to grow free from poverty, hunger and disease.

“They are about ensuring every child and everybody a quality of basic education; they are about stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing care for every child affected by the epidemic; and they are about protecting every child from violence, abuse and exploitation,” she said.

December 2006
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