Child Survival and Development
While the figures are alarming, sustainable positive change can still be carried out for the benefit of mothers
The health system of Gabon has lapses relating to the environment, delivery and quality of socio-health services
Poor infant health and malnutrition
Many factors are contributing to juvenile mortality in Gabon include diseases like malaria, measles and malnutrition due to low rates of exclusive breastfeeding and poor post-natal diet.
- Juvenile mortality is estimated at 65% and neonatal mortality at 26% with 46% of under -5 child mortalities caused by malaria, 18% by measles and 15% of premature births.
- 61% of Gabonese children between 6-59 months are anaemic.
- According to the health and demographic survey of Gabon (EDSG II 2012), while 49 % of rural areas have access to water, 51 % of those living in these communities consume unsafe water.
Mother to child HIV transmission
In 2013, 72.7 % of HIV positive women benefited from antiretrovirals (ARVS) in reducing the risk of transmission to their children.
However, HIV seroprevalence in Gabon stands at:
- 4.1% with females being most affected at 5.8% compared to 2.2% in men.
- Adolescent girls have a high HIV prevalence rate and only 24.4% of children who are eligible for Anti-retroviral treatment have access to it.
This calls for strengthening the prevention of mother to child transmission program to combat the growing levels of transmission and enable access to the ART for both mothers and children.
Infant and maternal mortality
Despite all the effort made by the government and its development partners, Gabonese mothers and children survive and develop in a context marked by high neonatal and infant-juvenile morbidity and mortality. According to the health and demographic survey of Gabon (EDSG II 2012), the rate of maternal mortality was estimated at 316 deaths out of every 100,000 live births. The ages 15-19 age bracket are affected the most with 34% of deaths.
UNICEF Gabon is using a community participation approach in health-related actions to encourage sustainable and positive change for Gabonese mothers and children. This includes promoting early and exclusive breastfeeding, nutrient supplementation and development of communication actions including training.
- Infant and maternal health: We focus on deworming, routine immunization and promotion of good-quality basic maternal care. UNICEF activities are geared to delivering vaccines to the most vulnerable populations in Gabon, emphasizing regular antenatal consultations, qualified personnel assisted-births, neonatal care and post-natal consultation.
- Nutrition: We focus on promoting early and exclusive breastfeeding, nutritious early childhood food, vitamin A supplements and routine vaccination.
- Prevention of mother-to-child HIV Transmission: We focus on access to ARVs for HIV-positive women to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission. This program also focuses on documenting the statistics on such transmissions.
- Water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH): There are serious lapses in the disposal of used water and human waste, and the collection of refuse, this creating unhygienic conditions and propagating disease vectors. We focus on access to clean water, proper waste disposal and handwashing, and rainwater evacuation.
UNICEF is also working with the government and people of Gabon to ensure full support and participation in activities like immunization, promoting community health, nutrition and infant hygiene by supporting hands-on training of health professionals. UNICEF assists in strengthening health information system used to obtain reliable national health statistics enable management and monitoring of ARVs and vaccine supplies and to build capacity to respond to emergencies.