Malawi defies poverty to reduce child mortality
Malawi has been hailed for defying its poverty levels to chalk success in reducing child mortality.
The country has registered a 70 percent drop in child mortality, meaning more children now reach their fifth birthday.
Malawi has been grouped among countries that have committed themselves to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and in the process saved the lives of 48 million children worldwide under the age of five since 2000.
Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Charles Mwansambo, said they were proud as a country to be one of the pacesetters in managing to reduce cases of death among under-five children before the MDG4 deadline.
“This success comes against the background of embracing evidence-based interventions in our operations complimented by specific accelerations plans,” he said.
Mwansambo said this, coupled with improvements in the health sector policies with special focus on women and children, has helped the country to move substantially faster than the 4.4 percent goal set by the MDG 4 and in the process saving the lives of countless Malawian children.
According to recent statistics from Unicef, the trend may continue with an additional 38 million lives being saved by 2030 if progress accelerates further in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) world leaders are set to approve later this month.
The UN body has since said despite being rated as one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi’s success demonstrates that substantial reductions in child mortality can be achieved despite formidable challenges.
Unicef Country Representative, Mahimbo Mdoe, said the UN body will continue to play a pivotal role in supporting the Malawi government with financial as well as technical resources to aid its efforts in reducing child mortality.
“Saving the lives of millions of children in urban and rural settings, in wealthy and poor countries, is one of the first great achievements of the new millennium — and one of the biggest challenges of the next 15 years is to further accelerate this progress,” he said.
Mdoe said Malawi has done well in lowering the number of child deaths.
“Despite this achievement, the youngest are still at risk of early death,” said Mdoe adding, “Newborns make up 30 percent of under five deaths, which means we need to do more to ensure that neonatal survival becomes a major priority and more young lives are saved.”
The number of children who die from mostly preventable causes before they turn five years now stands at 5.9 million a year worldwide – a 53 percent drop since 1990.
At 3.9 percent, the global annual rate of reduction of under-five mortality between 2000 and 2015 was more than twice as high as what it was in the 1990s.
Simple, high-impact, cost effective solutions that contributed to this dramatic reduction of under-five deaths include skilled antenatal, delivery and postnatal care, breastfeeding, immunisation, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, improved water and sanitation, oral rehydration therapy for diarrhea, antibiotics for pneumonia, nutritional supplements and therapeutic foods.
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