"Making Every Mother and Child Count"
minute, 20 children under the age of five years die. That's
30,000 children a day, 10.6 million children a year, say World
Health Organisation (WHO) statistics. The same statistics
show that more than 6 million of these children could be saved
minute, a woman dies from pregnancy- and childbirth-related
complications. Fourteen hundred women a day; more than half
a million every year.
many mothers and children are suffering and dying every year
is one of the messages the World Health Organisation is trying
to get through to people. The theme of this year's World Health
Day, observed last week (April 7), is healthy mothers and
children. The slogan: Make every mother and child count.
to WHO statistics, around 99 percent of maternal and under-five
child deaths occur in low and middle income countries, particularly
in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While medical complications
cause 70 percent of all maternal deaths, poverty, social exclusion,
low levels of education and violence against women are also
powerful underlying causes of maternal death and disability.
A handful of preventable and treatable conditions like neonatal
causes, pneumonia, malaria and measles are responsible for
more than 70 percent of all child deaths.
mothers and children are the real wealth of societies
2: Healthy mothers and children are the real wealth of
societies. Ill-health is one of the principal reasons
behind poverty, increasing family expenditure and decreasing
resources. World Bank statistics have shown that for every
dollar invested in child health, seven dollars are returned
through reduced spending on social welfare and increased productivity
of young people and adults. When a mother is sick or dies,
her children, family and society are all adversely affected.
Every year, an estimated one million young children die as
a result of the death of their mother. The survival and well-being
of mothers and children is crucial for the betterment of not
only their families but society as a whole.
third message WHO is trying to get across is that millions
of lives could be saved using the knowledge we have today;
the challenge is transforming this knowledge into action.
And a challenge it is. Despite so much technological advancement,
only 61 percent of births around the world, and as few as
34 percent in low income countries, are assisted by a skilled
attendant. Only four out of 10 children with pneumonia are
treated with antibiotics. While knowledge and tools to reduce
suffering and death exist, they don't reach the poorest, i.e.,
those most in need of them.
delivery is needed to reduce maternal deaths. Along with a
small set of preventive and curative interventions, appropriate
home care like optimal feeding practices, breastfeeding and
key health practices like using insecticide-treated materials
to prevent the transmission of malaria could dramatically
reduce the number of child deaths, says WHO. Education, particularly
that of girls, remains a major factor in enhancing the well-being
finally, everyone is responsible for making a difference.
The global community, governments, NGOs, academic institutions,
commercial institutions and the media all have to join forces
to, among other things, deliver health education and services,
generate resources and sensitise governments.
we each also have a role to play. From learning ourselves,
to teaching those around us -- from our children to our domestic
help -- awareness is key. This is followed by action: practising
key health behaviours like eating more and healthier foods
during pregnancy, breastfeeding, taking children for vaccinations
and using appropriate health services for children.
every two people who die in traffic accidents around the world,
one mother and 20 children die from preventable and treatable
causes. These are the tragedies that don't make newspaper
headlines every day, the deaths that we rarely hear about.
The lives each and every one of us, in our own way, could
do something to help save.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005