Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life significantly increases a child's chance to thrive.
Pregnancy, Neonatal and Infancy- Boosting Child Survival and Development
Since 2001 under-five mortality in Mali has significantly decreased, from 229 to 191 per 1,000 live births. This 17 per cent reduction in child mortality is encouraging but overall maternal, newborn and child survival health indicators are still some of the worst in the world. To reach the MDG 4 child mortality target, projected at 83 per 1,000 live births, national efforts have to step up considerably.
Integrated community health care for women and children - “Continuum of care”:
Improving maternal and newborn health requires delivering essential services and putting in place improved practices at key points in a woman’s and child’s life cycle. It links mothers, newborns, children and their households and communities with quality health care and maternal services; namely to outreach services, to health centres and if need be to hospitals. Community health volunteers play a vital role. They make house-to house visits “promoting essential family practices” which are key to child survival. They include antenatal care for pregnant women, immediate and exclusive breastfeeding for babies during the first six months of life, fully vaccinating children under one year of age, spacing births by at least three years, sleeping under insecticide treated mosquito nets, using latrines, and keeping drinking and cooking water safe from contamination.
The Mali-UNICEF programme provides support to improving the continuum of care approach, essential to reduce childhood diseases, improve maternal health and save lives. In partnership with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF is reinforcing the skills of health personnel and the availability of adequate health-care facilities at various levels with training, equipment and medicines. More specifically this support includes:
• Distributing long lasting insecticide net and intermittent preventive treatment of malaria for pregnant women in the second and third trimesters.
• Promoting hygienic delivery practices as well as tetanus vaccinations for women of childbearing age.
• Strengthening of medical evacuations and the referral system; this is critical not just for reducing maternal deaths but also for reducing infant deaths; between 25 and 45 per cent of neonatal deaths occur during the first day of life;
• Preventing mother to child transmission of HIV by promoting voluntary testing for HIV when pregnant women attend antenatal consultations, and providing information about infant feeding;
• Providing paediatric treatment -- ensuring that all children have access to care, including orphans and vulnerable children;