A campaign that began in 2000 encouraging women in China to give birth in hospitals instead of at home helped cut the nation’s neonatal mortality rate by 62 percent between 1996 and 2008, according to a study by researchers from Peking University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, BBC News reports. For the study, published Friday in the Lancet, researchers analyzed “data from China’s Maternal and Mortality Surveillance System to examine trends in neonatal mortality by cause and socioeconomic region,” the news service writes (9/15).
Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
Women Urged To Use Clinics For Birthing, Family Planning Counseling In Refugee Camps Along Somalia-Kenya Border
IRIN examines how community health workers and international aid organizations, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Rescue Committee, are working to provide safe and adequate health facilities in refugee camps on the Kenya-Somalia border where women can give birth.
“The annual number of children who die before they reach age five is shrinking, falling to 7.6 million global deaths in 2010 from more than 12 million in 1990, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday” in their annual report (.pdf) on child mortality, Reuters reports. “Overall, 12,000 fewer children under age five die each day than a decade ago,” according to the report, the news agency notes. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement that “many factors are contributing to reductions in child mortality, including better access to health care for newborns, prevention and treatment of childhood diseases, access to vaccines, clean water and better nutrition,” the news agency writes (Steenhuysen, 9/14).
The September/October issue of USAID’s Frontlines focuses on the agency’s efforts in Sudan and the new nation of South Sudan, as well as USAID’s Education Strategy. In his “Insights” column, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes, “There is no more powerful tool for creating healthy, prosperous, stable societies than education” (September/October 2011).
Gender Disparities In Developing Countries Relatively Small At Birth But Grow In Adolescence, UNICEF Report Says
A UNICEF report (.pdf) released on Tuesday suggests that gender disparities between boys and girls in developing countries are relatively small in children’s early years, but as children approach adolescence, gaps widen in areas such as education, health, nutrition and protection, Xinhua reports (9/13). According to the report, “[h]ealth and education disparities between boys and girls in developing countries tend not to emerge until adolescence, when girls face increased risks of child marriage, HIV/AIDS infection and domestic violence,” TrustLaw writes.
European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs announced during a visit to South Africa on Monday that the European Union (E.U.) “will contribute 126 million euros to South Africa’s fight against AIDS and tuberculosis (TB),” money that “will be used to improve South Africa’s primary health care system, increasing access for patients,” Reuters reports (9/12).
Several news sources have published opinion pieces regarding the ongoing famine in Somalia and hunger situation in the Horn of Africa, some of which are summarized below:
The Washington Post examines how high rates of malnutrition among Somali children — approximately 36 percent under age five are malnourished and almost 16 percent are severely malnourished, according to Somalia’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit — are “the biggest test yet of recent improvements in assessing and treating malnutrition, changes that range from the coordination of care to the ingredients of food aid.”
PBS NewsHour’s blog “The Rundown” examines a “report from the U.N.’s Every Woman, Every Child Innovation Working Group, out in the Lancet Monday, [which] looks at some of the promising and innovative projects” aimed at improving maternal and child health. “More than 350,000 women die each year around the globe from complications of childbirth, and three million children die in the first month of life,” according to the blog (Miller, 9/12). The report “was prepared as part of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s ‘Every Woman Every Child’ Initiative, a global strategy for improving women and children’s health, launched last year,” according to a U.N. Foundation press release (9/12).
Speaking at a workshop on maternal morbidity and mortality in Korofidua, Ghana on Thursday, which was organized for journalists in the region, acting Eastern Regional Director of Health Services Larbi Addo challenged the media to help change negative perceptions about pregnancy and child-bearing in an effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the country, GhanaWeb reports. “He said the campaign to reduce maternal mortality was a shared responsibility and asked the media to support the health sector in educating the public on the subject,” the news service reports.