Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dar achieves MDG for child mortality

By Saumu Mwalimu, The Citizen

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is among the few countries that have beaten the global deadline to reduce child mortality rate by a significant margin, statistics show.

Tanzania has surpassed the two-third threshold set by the United Nations to reduce the number of children dying before the age of five for every 100,000 live births by 2015.

The feat means that the country has at least fulfilled one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set out in the year 2000 by the international community to drive progress, especially among the poor and developing countries. Reduction of child mortality rates is listed as MDG 4.

Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal, Liberia and Timor-Leste are other countries that have managed to reduce their under-five mortality by two thirds or more since 1990, thereby joining Tanzania in the list of honours, according to a newly released report.

Like many other nations, Tanzania is in different stages of tackling the remainder of the MDGs. The main objectives are: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, to achieve universal primary education, to promote gender equality and empowering women and to improve maternal health.

Others are to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, to ensure environmental sustainability and to develop a global partnership for development.

According to the latest progress report released by Unicef, the success shown by the countries in combating child mortality shows that low income among the poor economies was not a barrier to preventing child deaths. Unicef has produced the second of its review of MDG 4 in a report entitled: “Committing to Child Survival, A promise Renewed.”

According to the report, the rate of under-five mortality has almost halved, from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 48 per 1,000 in 2012.

The report indicated that among other innervations,

more effective and affordable treatment, innovative ways of delivering, critical interventions on the poor and sustained political commitment have contributed to the achievement.

However, the report warns that despite the gain, child survival remains an urgent concern, it shows that in 2012, approximately 6.6 million children died before their fifth birthday, at a rate of around 18,000 per day.

The report notes that without faster progress on reducing preventable diseases, the world will not meet its child survival goal (MDG 4) until 2028, which means 13 years after the deadline. It says failing to meet the deadline means 35 million children will die between 2015 and 2028 who would otherwise have lived.

Unicef noted that to reduce the global under-five mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015, the pace of reduction would need to quadruple in 2013 to 2015.

And even if the world were to achieve the goal on time, 15 million children under 5 would still die between 2013 and 2015, mostly from preventable causes, the report shows. Only two regions East Asia and Pacific, and Latin America and Caribbean are currently on track to meet the 2015 deadline for MDG 4.

The report has also revealed that of the 6.6 million under-five deaths in 2012 were from preventable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhoea or malaria whereby around 44 per cent of the deaths in children under-five occurred during the neonatal period.

Pneumonia and diarrhoea remain leading causes of death among children under 5, killing almost 5,000 children under 5 every day. The prevalence of these diseases is highly concentrated, with three quarters of global pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths occurring in just 15 countries including Tanzania, Afghanistan, Angola, Congo DRC, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, among others.

On the other hand, malaria remains a significant cause of child death, killing 1,200 children under 5 every day where it accounts for 14 per cent of child deaths, despite major gains in life-saving interventions in recent years.