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Help us keep mothers and babies alive

UNICEF / South Africa / Rheeder
© UNICEF / South Africa / Rheeder

Fact: Every hour, 10 South African children under the age of five die from preventable and treatable illnesses.

Saving mothers and children

Helping save the lives of mothers, babies and children is at the core of UNICEF’s programme in South Africa. Working with the Government and other partners, we strive to improve the quality of services for young children and mothers and increase their access to life-saving healthcare.

Take Note

  • 30.2% of South African pregnant women are HIVpositive.
  • 300,000 babies are exposed to HIV every year. Only 25% get tested early enough to access care and treatment.
  • 100,000 HIV-positive children under the age of 15 urgently need life-saving antiretroviral therapy. Only 25,600 are getting treatment.
  • The national Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme only reaches 25 percent of HIV-positive pregnant women and their newborns.

Take Action

Help us keep mothers alive and healthy. In partnership with the University of Pretoria, UNICEF is supporting the Department of Health’s Basic Improvement of Antenatal Care (BANC) programme. BANC, which involves training doctors and nurses and working with communities, has the potential of significantly reducing the number of women and children dying once it is adopted throughout South Africa.

Help us prevent mothers from passing HIV to their babies. In collaboration with the Department of Health and other partners, UNICEF is working to improve the quality of services that prevent HIV-positive pregnant women from passing HIV to their babies. Routine HIV testing for expectant women and community care for HIV-positive mothers and children are key components of this intervention. There are plans to expand the work to Northwest, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces in 2007, which would significantly improve the reach and effectiveness of PMTCT in South Africa.

Help us to keep babies alive and healthy. The Limpopo Initiative for Neonatal Care (LINC), a comprehensive healthcare programme that sets up neonatal care corners in maternity units and trains health workers, has been successful in reducing neonatal mortality by 15 per cent in hospitals. In 2007, the initiative will be expanded to all districts in Limpopo and to other provinces as well.

Help us test babies for HIV. It is critical to test children born to HIV-positive women in their sixth week of life so that timely and comprehensive treatment and care can be given. UNICEF is supporting the Department of Health and other partners to expand the testing capacity of laboratories and to train primary health workers on simple infant testing technologies.

Help us improve infant feeding practices and newborn care. UNICEF supports the national Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, a major neonatal care programme aimed at improving how young children are fed and looked after at home once they are discharged from hospital. The programme is in place in 202 out of 545 hospitals with maternity wards.

You Can Make a Difference

Our goal is to see one third less young children dying and 80 per cent of HIV-positive and pregnant women in PMTCT programmes on antiretroviral treatment by 2010.

  • A gift of R5,000 can help improve the skills of a midwife to ensure that pregnant women visiting health clinics are tested for HIV, assessed to see if they are eligible for antiretroviral treatment and checked for high blood pressure.
  • A gift of R2,500 can support a community health worker in carrying out home visits to at least 40 HIV-positive mums and provide counselling on HIV, antiretroviral treatment and safe infant feeding.
  • A gift of R200 can help to test a baby born to an HIV infected mother.
  • A gift of R20,000 can provide 90per cent of pregnant mothers delivering in a babyfriendly hospital with counselling on safe infant feeding and baby care.
  • A gift of R60,000 can help a hospital set up a basic neonatal care unit to look after low birth weight and sick babies.

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