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16 June 2010 - UN Highlights Maternal and Child Survival

KAMPALA, 16 June 2010 – Uganda has made progress in maternal and child survival in recent years but more needs to be done, UN agencies said today in marking the International Day of the African Child. This year’s theme is “Planning and Budgeting for the Wellbeing of the Child: a Collective Responsibility”.

“To save children’s lives we need to address the health of their mothers; there is an inextricable link between maternal and child survival”, said United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Mr. Theophane Nikyema.

Despite gains in reducing the number of child deaths in Uganda, the under-five mortality rate remains high. Currently, out of every 1,000 babies born in Uganda, 137 will not live to celebrate their 5th birthday. Malaria, Pneumonia and Diarrhoea alone are responsible for 75 percent of all under-five deaths, most of which can be prevented. Out of every 100,000 live births in Uganda, an estimated 435 mothers die due to complications experienced during or shortly after a pregnancy.

The essential services and practices to avert child death in Uganda include improved antenatal care and skilled attendance at birth; early and exclusive breastfeeding; immunization against vaccine-preventable childhood diseases; adequate nutrition; protection against and treatment of malaria; improved drinking water sources and better hygiene practices; and access to Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services. Saving the lives of mothers and their newborns requires more than just medical intervention; it requires an environment that empowers women and respects their rights.

Investing and packaging these interventions together and delivering them to mothers and children will save many lives and provide an environment for children to survive and develop.

Uganda has made considerable progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), notably on universal primary education. A firm commitment and investment in the health sector will ensure that Uganda will achieve a reduction in maternal mortality by three-quarters and decline in under-five mortality by two-thirds by the 2015 target. 

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on his recent visit to Uganda discussed progress made and additional efforts needed particularly for Uganda to reach these crucial goals. 

The UN agencies take this opportunity to call for an invigorated political commitment and investment in the health and social sectors to ensure that children and their mothers live and lead healthy lives.

Maternal and child health will also be prominently featured this year in the meetings of the African Union Summit as well as the first ever African Youth Forum (AYF).  The Youth Forum, which will take place from 17-19 July in Entebbe, will voice the views of over 100 young representatives from 53 AU member countries. The youth leaders will share their recommendations to African governments on maternal and child health issues and development in the continent. 

UN agencies are united in supporting Uganda’s efforts to strengthen planning and budgeting for financial and human resources to promote the wellbeing of mothers and children so they can live and thrive.
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