Sustaining gains in child survivalLUSAKA, 12 June 2008- The first round of Child Health Week to be held from the 16 - 21 of June will encourage every Zambian family and caregiver to bring children under five for lifesaving vaccinations. Over two million children up to the age of five are targeted to be reached during the week.
This year’s Child Health Week aim to sustain and further reduce the under five mortality rates which have gone down by 30 per cent since 2001 from 168 per 1,000 live births to 119 according to the latest preliminary results of the Zambian Demographic Health Survey.
New services provided this year include soap for hand-washing in addition to vitamin supplementation, mebendazole, and tetanus shots. Mothers will get lessons on safe motherhood and newborn care. Care givers will also be informed about the importance of birth registration, an area that has this far not received enough attention.
“We are very pleased to once again be part of this life-saving activity that reaches more than 2 million children with life-saving services in the span of a week,” said Elspeth Erickson, UNICEF Zambia Deputy Representative. “As UNICEF, we are proud to be associated with this, and are encouraged by the recent results that show progress in child mortality. It is these kinds of activities that are reaching out to every single child that will make a long term difference to child survival and on-going well-being in Zambia. We are also happy that this year, hand washing with soap has been integrated into the child health week, ensuring a practical measure towards better understanding of hygiene – a key to health.”
UNICEF is a major donor to the Government of Zambia’s Child Health Week, and this year has contributed more than US$ 250,000 in cash and supplies, with more than US$60,000 going for hand washing with soap. Other support has been in terms of operational costs, transport and social mobilization. This year, hand-washing soap will be given to all care givers that will be taking the children for the child health week services, encouraging them to use this simple but life-saving hygiene tool on a regular basis.
“This whole process has a lofty goal: finding better ways to harness the extraordinary power of communication for life saving interventions for the children, families and communities the Government and partners serve,” said Dr. Tesfaye Sheferaw, Chief of Health, UNICEF Zambia. “But the word must reach all parents and caregivers to take their children aged up to five years to receive the services provided. It will be a great day for this country when all parents and caregivers will fully embrace this life saving practices and interventions and seek medical attention and care for children whenever it is necessary.”
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