UNICEF NOTES PROGRESS IN REDUCING CHILDHOOD MORTALITY IN AZERBAIJAN
BAKU, September 24, 2008 – Azerbaijan made considerable progress in reducing infant and under five mortality rates since 2000, according to the latest UNICEF estimates for all the countries of the world: in Azerbaijan in 2007, UNICEF estimated, for every 1000 children 34 died before they were one, and 39 died before they were five year old.
These estimates for Azerbaijan for the last years have been updated based on the recent Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) conducted by the State Statistical Committee and MACRO International Inc. with participation of other governmental agencies and assistance from USAID and UNICEF in 2006. According to DHS for every 1,000 children born during five years before the survey (2004 is taken as an average), 50 died before they were five years old. Of these, most (43 of the 50) died before they were one.
Although these latest figures show a two-fold decrease in infant and under-five mortality rates since 2000, they are still higher than the official statistics. One of the major reasons for this discrepancy in Azerbaijan is that official statistics on neonatal mortality still use the Soviet definition of a live birth whereas surveys collect data on mortality rates based on the WHO's live birth definition.
According to official sources, some 44 per cent of all infant deaths occur within the first month of life, of which 91 per cent occur within the first week after delivery. Most of these deaths are completely preventable and happen because of outdated care practices among health professionals, lack of vital equipment in health care facilities, as well as limited awareness of mothers on health-related issues and lack of healthy behavior skills among population.
“Azerbaijan has made good progress in its attempt to reach MDG 4, a two-third reduction of child mortality by 2015. However, still much needs to be done in order to make sure the country is fully on track. High impact interventions in the field of mother and child health have to be implemented countrywide to bring down current child mortality rate and improve child health,” said Gillian Wilcox, UNICEF Azerbaijan OIC Representative.
“It is hoped that recent initiatives by the Ministry of Health, supported by UNICEF, such as reorganization of perinatal care system, development of necessary regulations, including neonatal care standards and clinical protocols, transition to WHO live birth definition implementation, as well as initiatives for bettering parenthood practices will contribute to further improvement of situation in child survival.”
UNICEF survey results indicate that child survival rates around the world are increasing, with global child deaths reaching a record low: the annual number of deaths for children under the age of five is in decline, from nearly 13 million child deaths in 1990 to less than 10 million today.
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman says, "This is an historic moment. More children are surviving today than ever before. Now we must build on this public health success to push for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals." The goal for child mortality is a two-thirds reduction between 1990 and 2015.
Reasons given for the progress made globally thus far include exclusive breast feeding, immunization against measles, Vitamin A supplements, and the use of anti-malarial techniques. Additionally, UNICEF says, widespread support for global health issues and increased funding from governments, private industry and international foundations have helped stem the rate of mortality among children under the age of five worldwide.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information please contact:
Ayna Mollazade, Communication Officer
Tel: 99412 492 3013