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Uganda’s child mortality rate drops

By Carol Kasujja

Added 13th March 2018 02:58 PM

The report titled Every child alive, the urgent need to end newborn deaths,2018 analyzes progress made by countries globally in reducing child mortality.

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New-born deaths are primarily caused by prematurity, complications at birth and infections

The report titled Every child alive, the urgent need to end newborn deaths,2018 analyzes progress made by countries globally in reducing child mortality.

Uganda is one of the few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa making significant progress in reducing child mortality, the latest report from UNICEF shows.

The report titled Every child alive, the urgent need to end newborn deaths,2018 analyzes progress made by countries globally in reducing child mortality.

Uganda was second best in East Africa with 21 deaths followed by Tanzania, with 21.7 newborn deaths. Kenya registered 23, Burundi 24 and South Sudan recorded 38 children dying per 1,000 births before their first month.

Rwanda was ranked best in East Africa, and was the only country in the region among the top 10 nations with the lowest new-born deaths.

From a high of 41 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990, Rwanda has cut that number by more than half to 16 deaths per 1,000 births in 2016.

Rwanda’s success has been attributed to political will and investments in strong health systems that prioritise babies born in the poorest and most marginalised areas.

The current report shows that babies born in Japan, Iceland and Singapore have the best chance at survival, while new-borns in Pakistan, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan face the worst odds.

According to the report, new-born deaths were primarily caused by prematurity, complications at birth and infections such as sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia.

“Each of these deaths is a tragedy, especially because the vast majority are preventable. More than 80 per cent of new-born deaths are the result of premature birth, complications during labour and delivery and infections such as sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia. Similar causes, particularly complications during labour, account for a large share of stillbirths,” reads the report.

The secondary cause of deaths was lack of global focus on the challenge of ending new-born mortality.

According to the report, Babies born to the poorest families are more than 1.4 times more likely to die during the new-born period than those born to the richest. Babies born to mothers with no education face almost twice the risk of dying as new-borns as babies born to mothers with at least a secondary education.

“Babies are dying not just from medical causes such as prematurity and pneumonia. They are dying because of who their parents are and where they are born, because their families are too poor or marginalized to access the care they need,” reads the report.

The report makes practical proposals countries can adopt to reduce child mortality rate. They include: Recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and new-born care; guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities within the reach of every mother and baby; providing every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life; and empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality care.

UNICEF is also calling for universal health coverage, starting with four main pillars including functional health facilities with electricity and clean water, midwives and other health workers equipped with training and tools, life-saving drugs and equipment.

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