European Commission donates €3.5 million euros to support maternal and newborn care in Uzbekistan
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, 16 July 2008 – Hundreds of thousands of mothers and children across Uzbekistan will benefit from a landmark partnership, sealed by the Government of Uzbekistan, the European Commission (EC) and UNICEF today in Brussels.
According to the agreement, the EC will provide €3.5 million euros ($5.5 million US dollars) to improve skills of staff and conditions of facilities in the area of maternal and child healthcare across the nation. The Government of Uzbekistan will lead the way in implementing the initiative. UNICEF will give technical support and an additional funding of €300,000 euros.
“The EC is delighted to be part of this groundbreaking programme,” said Mario Ronconi, Head of EC’s Central Asia Section. “Many thousands of mothers and children set to directly benefit. This is fully in-line with our developing relationship with Uzbekistan, highlighting our firm commitment to development in this country and the Central Asian region.”
According to UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2006, infant mortality stands at 48 per 1,000 births in Uzbekistan. It is believed that nearly 50 per cent of these deaths could be easily prevented if the healthcare staff and conditions are better equipped. Improving healthcare standards therefore is key to saving babies’ and mother’s lives.
Since 1999, UNICEF and its partners have been running a pilot project in the Ferghana region, Uzbekistan, to support the Government in the area of maternal and newborn care. With UNICEF’s help, Live Birth Definition, a standard used by the World Health Organization was introduced to facilities across the region. And it has led to a 25 per cent increase in reporting of infant deaths, generating a more accurate picture of the mother and child health situation in Ferghana.
Through UNICEF-supported training, more health staff now have improved skills in newborn care, particularly in emergency newborn care. Independent analysis indicated that the newborn mortality rate in Ferghana has been consistently falling from 2003 to 2006.
“Our clinic now receives the vast majority of the worst cases in the region as our reputation for quality service has spread over the last few years,” said Ishimova Flora, Chief Pediatrician at the Ferghana regional maternity centre. “My staff are more aware of cost effective treatments, and we are only prescribing drugs when absolutely necessary.’”
With the new funding, the Government, EC and UNICEF will work together to expand the successes achieved in Ferghana to another eight of Uzbekistan’s fourteen regions. Training of health workers is set to begin in September 2008. Over a two and a half year period,
“Quality healthcare will soon be available to mothers and babies in some of remotest regions in the country,” said Mahboob Shareef, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan. “This means mothers in rural villages will be able to give birth in safe and friendly environment, and many more of Uzbekistan’s children will be offered the best start in life that every child deserves to help them survive and thrive.”
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