Further boost for new born health in Zimbabwe
…as Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) International supports scaling up of “New Born Care Corners” in District Hospitals
Zimbabwe, 12 April 2012– The United Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe today received US$431,210 from Absolute Return for Kids International that is set to significantly contribute towards the country’s efforts to reduce neonatal deaths.
Zimbabwe has historically been at the forefront of providing commendable child health care but more than a decade of economic decline and under funding for the health sector saw health institutions struggling to provide basic health care, resulting in increased child mortality in the country. At least 100 children are dying every day after succumbing to different diseases while neonatal causes are the leading cause of death in children under five years of age.
According to the 2010 Global Systematic Analysis of National Causes of Child Mortality report, around 10,758 newborns die each year in Zimbabwe, primarily due to three major causes; preterm delivery (37 per cent) , asphyxia (27 per cent) and infection (19 per cent). Most of these deaths are preventable through interventions that address unsafe delivery environments, delays in seeking skilled health care, poor antenatal surveillance and poor post natal care. These are high impact, cost effective preventive and curative interventions that can address the major killers of newborn such as, provision of essential newborn care immediately after birth, keeping newborns warm, cord care, resuscitation of newborns, early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, and early identification and treatment of newborn infections.
“UNICEF remains committed to scaling up interventions for neonatal and child health in Zimbabwe and ensuring there is continued realization of the rights of children to good health,” said UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Peter Salama.
“The support we receive today from Absolute Return for Kids International will go a long way in ensuring that every newborn baby in Zimbabwe has a good chance of survival through access to Essential Newborn Care and neonatal basic life support soon after birth.”
The US$431,210 grant from Absolute Return for Kids will see the establishment of a ‘New-born Care Corner’ in at least 20 district hospitals of the country to provide comprehensive quality immediate new-born care over a period of a year with plans to scale it up in the future to reach all health facilities that are providing maternity services.
In Zimbabwe, most of the delivery rooms and maternity wards of all health centres and district hospitals have limited capacity to provide optimal newborn care immediately after birth. The few delivery rooms or maternity wards that are currently practicing essential newborn care are gravely limited by lack of the necessary supplies and or lack of well trained health workers.
“We are all aware of the challenges facing our health sector and we greatly appreciate the support we continue to receive from our partners to address some of these challenges,” said Principal Director for Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health of Health and Child Welfare Dr. Gibson Mhlanga. “These funds will go a long way in increasing child survival and reducing the high child mortality rates in the country.”
The New-born Care Corner project realizes the importance of public–private collaboration to galvanize the national child survival effort to reduce new-born and infant mortality in Zimbabwe, as UNICEF taps into funding from non-traditional partners such as Absolute Return for Kids.
“Absolute Return for Kids International is happy to collaborate with the Inclusive Government and UNICEF to scale up efforts to save the lives of newborns in Zimbabwe,” said ARK Internationals’ Managing Director, Mr. Chris Abani. “We hope this partnership continues to flourish over this year and yield the intended results of lowered Infant Mortality Rates in Zimbabwe.”
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