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Thursday, September 10, 2009

FROM THE HEALTHRIGHT BLOG: Reason For Optimism: Global child mortality rates declining

From the HealthRight blog: http://healthrightinternational.blogspot.com.

New data released by UNICEF today shows that under-five child mortality rates have declined by 28 percent since 1990. This is great news, and demonstrates the effectiveness of a combination of improved technology and international aid programs in preventing millions of unnecessary deaths each year.

Much of this progress is owing to simple interventions such as mosquito nets and basic information on safe delivery and infant care techniques, which have increasingly been made available to women, children, and families throughout the developing world.

But while the global numbers have shown great improvement, and certain individual countries – such as Nepal, Bolivia, and Malawi – have drastically reduced infant mortality rates, the progress has not been universal. For instance, in Kenya, where HealthRight’s Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health is working with local communities and providers to build access to health care for mothers and newborn children, child mortality rates have risen.

The challenges in Kenya abound, especially in the Northern Rift Valley, where HealthRight’s projects operate. Corruption remains a significant problem; ethnic strife following the 2007 election has hindered efforts at sustainable development; and poor infrastructure and lack of political will mean that hospitals and trained health workers are few and far between.

All of which serves to underscore the continued importance of development projects like the Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health, which empowers community members, provides equipment, infrastructure, and trainings for health workers, and advocates for increased allocation of resources for excluded or marginalized communities.

As one HealthRight-trained Community Health Worker in Kenya put it, “without health care, women and children die. With information and access to facilities, we can save lives.”

 - Daniel Kricheff