Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Rwanda has lowest child death rates in East Africa: report

                                                                                        Butaro hospital in Rwanda
Most children in Eastern Africa are likely to survive if they are born in Rwanda, a new report has revealed.
Nearly 70 per cent of women in the country give birth with a skilled healthcare worker present, the report says.
Ethiopia is ranked with the lowest rate in the region with just 10 per cent of mothers having access to such care.
Kenya is at 43.8 per cent, Tanzania 48.9 per cent while Uganda and Burundi both at 60 per cent.
 The first day of a child’s life is the most dangerous and too many mothers give birth alone on the floor of their home or in the bush without any life-saving help,” said Janti Soeripto, Interim Regional Director for Save the Children’s East Africa Regional Office.
According to the report titled Ending Newborn Deaths, high inequalities in access between rural and urban areas, as well as between the richest and poorest families is the main cause of infant mortality.
In Kenya, poor women are four times less likely to have a skilled worker present when giving birth than women from richer households, the survey adds.
The situation is worse in Ethiopia where poor women are twenty times less likely to have this vital support.
Some countries like Uganda have taken measures to make access to healthcare more equitable such as ensuring a minimum package of health services for everyone.
However, the survey notes that "over a quarter of families still do not have a health facility within 5km radius, and attendance rates remain low due to poor infrastructure, inadequate supplies, and health worker shortages."
“We hear horror stories of mothers walking for hours during labour to find trained help, all too often ending in tragedy,” Mr Soeripto said.
The Children's Agency says urgent action needs to be taken to reduce newborn mortality rates that account for deaths of more than half of all children under five years.
"The solutions are well-known but need greater political will to give babies a fighting chance of reaching their second day of life," the director said.

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