Senegal provides free access to health services for 2.5 million under-five children
DAKAR, Senegal, 4 October 2013 – On October 1st, 2013, Senegal launched its initiative providing free of charge access to health services to children under five. As many as 2.5 million Senegalese children will benefit from this measure that aims at accelerating reduction in child mortality by 2015, particularly for the poorest.
“UNICEF supports all efforts aimed at reducing maternal, neonatal and under 5 mortality through community based high impact interventions. Removing financial barriers in accessing health services means addressing one of the most important bottleneck and will enable the most vulnerable segments of the population to benefit from readily available services,” said Mrs Giovanna Barberis, Representative of UNICEF Senegal. “We welcome and support this initiative of the Senegalese government,” she added.
During the first phase, started October 1st, parents of children aged zero to five will no longer pay for consultations, vaccination and hospitalization at health centers and hospitals. A significant service package will be offered free of charge, including treatment of malaria, pneumonia, diarrheal diseases (with ORS and zinc), severe acute malnutrition and pediatric HIV, in addition to vaccination services.
Starting January 2014, other priority child illnesses will be added to the package provided free of charge at health posts, health centers and hospital emergency rooms. This key step constitutes one of the strategic axes of the Universal Medical Coverage initiated by President Macky Sall. According to Senegal’s Health Minister, “the country has mobilized 1.8 billion FCFA for free health services for children aged zero to five” for 2013. Mrs Awa Marie Coll Seck - Minister of Health - presided over the official launch of the initiative from a Dakar health center in the presence of UNICEF and WHO Representatives.
According to Senegal’s latest Demographic and Health Survey (DHS/MICS), the mortality rate for children under five remains high at 72 deaths per 1,000 live births. The national goal is to reach 46 deaths per 1,000 live births by 2015. Most deaths occur from preventable diseases.
Within the framework of the global initiative “A Promise Renewed”, Senegal has committed to and launched its plan for accelerating child survival interventions on July 5th 2013. The access to free of charge health services for under-five children represents a major milestone in the implementation of this plan, which aims to save the lives of 10,000 children by 2015.
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
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