Under-five child deaths still high in Malawi

Malawi still registers high rate of under-five child deaths among newborn infants despite concerted efforts to reduce the mortality rate for the past five years.

According to a released stakeholders report, statistics indicate that 30 of every 1000 newborn infants die within the period of zero to 28 days.

The report was presented during an interactive meeting between Ministry of health in conjunction with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and media houses editors in Mangochi.

UNFPA assistant resident Dorothy Nyasulu attributed the increase in under-five child deaths to lack of enough medical assistance to pregnant women in early stage of their pregnancy and after giving birth.

Health surveillance workers in Malawi focus on under-fives and pregnant mothers, but help many others. Photo credit : Gianluigi Guercia, AFP

“Despite the child mortality rates have been decreasing on a quicker rate, which put Malawi on record to meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 4 dealing with child related issues, however there is slow improvement in the reduction of neonatal mortality. It is suggested that it is all because there is still problem when it comes to numbers of expectant women who start to come to our anti-natal care facilities within the first trimester,” Nyasulu said.

Nyasalu added that despite intensification of public awareness on the need for expectant mothers to start accessing medical support before and after giving birth; only very few women return to hospitals for further assistance after delivery.

She attributed the problem also of neonatal deaths to infection, prematurity and poor breast-feeding practices.

“If the pregnant women start accessing medical help at early stages as well as getting tested, there is a high possibility that the country can reduce causes of neonatal deaths. The critical period to lose both mothers and the neonates is before the 28 days, so if they could access postnatal care that would reduce the neonatal deaths,” she explained.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) every year nearly 40 percent of all under-five child deaths are among newborn infants, babies in their first 28 days of life or the neonatal period, three quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life.

Who further states that in developing countries nearly half of all mothers and newborns do not receive skilled care during and immediately after birth and that up to two thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented if known, effective health measures are provided at birth and during the first week of life.

The vast majority of newborn deaths take place in developing countries where access to health care is low. Most of these newborns die at home, without skilled care that could greatly increase their chances for survival.

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