Malawi records tremendous gains in reducing under five deaths
Reaching Millennium Development Goal 4 ahead of the 2015 deadline…
New York / Lilongwe – 13 September, 2013. A new UNICEF report shows that Malawi is one of the few low income countries that has made significant strides in reducing under-five death rates by two-thirds or more since 1990, reaching Millennium Development Goal 4 for the reduction of child deaths ahead of the 2015 deadline. The others are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nepal and United Republic of Tanzania.
For Malawi, the under- five mortality rate now is at 71 per 1,000 live births (2012), down from 112 in 2010 and 234 in 1992 according to the joint UN child mortality estimates report (IGME 2013). Malawi recorded the second highest rate of reduction of all low-income, high mortality countries, at 5.6%, with only Bangladesh gaining a higher rate of reduction at 5.7%. Malawi’s rate for under five deaths is now lower than neighbours, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Kenya. Pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malaria remain the leading causes of child deaths globally, claiming the lives of around 6,000 children under five each day. Under-nutrition contributes to almost half of these deaths.
The newly launched report demonstrates that dramatic reductions in child survival are possible if the correct investments are possible.
“Progress can and must be made,” said UNICEF Malawi’s Representative Mahimbo Mdoe. “When concerted action, sound strategies, adequate resources and strong political will are harnessed in support of child and maternal survival, dramatic reductions in child mortality aren’t just feasible, they are morally imperative.”
Mdoe said reversing these trends requires immediate action on multiple fronts, as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals - reducing poverty, decreasing maternal mortality, boosting education and gender equality, and promoting environmental sustainability.
Public health experts attribute the continuing decline to increased use of key health interventions, such as immunizations, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria and Vitamin A supplementation. Where these interventions have increased, positive results have followed. Also contributing to Malawi’s success has been the use of innovative ideas and technologies to reach children in remote areas with activities that can save their lives. One such innovation is the use of mobile phones for fast delivery of HIV test results. Diagnostic results are sent back to mothers 50 per cent faster than results delivered in printed copy, allowing for faster treatment for children. Health workers also record children’s births and track patients using the Rapid SMS system, making sure that children are counted and receive the medical assistance they need.
Just over a year ago, the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, together with UNICEF, launched Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, a global effort to stop children from dying of causes that are easily prevented.
So far, 176 governments, including Malawi have signed a pledge, vowing to accelerate progress on child survival. Hundreds of civil society, religious groups and private individuals have also pledged support for the shared goal of giving every last child the best possible start in life.
The movement emerged from the Child Survival Call to Action, a high-level forum convened in June 2012 by the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States, in collaboration with UNICEF, to examine ways to spur progress on child survival. Partners from government, civil society and the private sector emerged from the Call to Action forum with a revitalized commitment to child survival.
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