Most children die from preventable causes – Malawi Health Minister

Ministry of Health says millions of mothers and babies in developing countries are dying because of child birth which has also affected Malawi following a report produced by Save the Children.

This was disclosed by Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara on Wednesday in Lilongwe during the official launch of the 2013 State of the World Mothers Report under the theme “Surviving the first day.”

She said that every year 3 million babies in the world die within the first month of life and that most of these die from preventable causes.

She however said Malawi had made remarkable progress towards improving maternal, newborn and child health.

Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara Speaking during the launch of the report. pic by Felix Washon. MANA
Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara Speaking during the launch of the report. pic by Felix Washon. MANA

“We reduced our newborn mortality rate by 44 percent since 1990, in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) 4 and 5,” said Gotani Hara. “This is an achievement we should be proud of considering that globally, newborn deaths account for 43 percent of all under-five deaths.”

She said with consistent and high level political commitment from international organizations including Save the Children, Government had taken a comprehensive national health sector approach to save the newborn lives.

Presenting findings of the report, Director of the Reproductive Health Unit, Fannie Kachele, said there were three major conditions that contributed to new born deaths which include pre-term births, severe infections and complications during childbirth.

She said in addressing these, the country had invested heavily in essential newborn care including ‘kangaroo mother’ care as a strategy to manage babies born prematurely and with low birth weight, improving skills of birth attendants to help during delivery and manage any complications during the process.

Kachele said, “The country’s first national road map to reduce newborn mortality was launched in 2007, resulting in better training for nurses and midwives to deliver high quality maternal and newborn care services.”

She added that Malawi was scaling up the training of health Surveillance Assistants who provide health care to mothers and babies at home during pregnancy and within a week after birth.

However, she said these health workers also encourage women to give birth at health facilities instead of at home in line with government efforts to meet MGDs 4 and 5.

Speaking earlier, the Country Director for Save the Children, Mathew Pickard, said the report was very important as it reflected whether the country was making progress or not towards achieving MGDs.

“It is a very important report for Malawi as a country, because it provides a reference point for our performance in maternal, newborn and child health against backdrop of global performance,” said Pickard.

Out of 176 countries, Malawi is ranked on position 144 on the mothers’ index and 45th on birth day risk index among 186 countries.–Malawi News Agency

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