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30.06.2005 General News

10 million children die before 5th birthday - WHO

GNA

Accra, June 30, GNA - More than 10 million children worldwide die each year before celebrating their fifth birthday from a handful of preventable and treatable diseases, the World Health (WHO) Report for 2005, has indicated.

Almost 90 per cent of the deaths are attributed to acute neonatal conditions, pre-term births, respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

Briefing the media in Accra on Thursday on the Report, Dr Melville George, WHO Representative, said about 530,000 women died each year during pregnancy or childbirth, as a result of lack of skilled care, obstetric interventions and poverty out.

Three million babies are stillborn, four million die within their first days of life and 10.6 million before their fifth birthday. The Report under the theme: "Make Every Mother and Child Count" would be launched in Accra on July 6.

Make Every Mother and Child Count is a wide ranging study of the obstacles to health facing women before and after pregnancy; paying particular attention to the plight of the newborn, whose specific needs have fallen to the crack separating maternal and child care programmes. According to the Report, out of the total of 136 million births annually world-wide, less than two-thirds of women in less developed countries and one-third in the least developed countries had their babies delivered by skilled attendants, making a difference in the rise of complications in life and death for the mother and child.

Dr George said healthy women and children were the real wealth of every nation and their survival was not only important in their rights but also central to solving them in a broader sense taking into consideration the social, economic and developmental challenges.

"When mothers and children are sick or die, their families, communities and nations suffer as well. A lot of time is spent looking after those who are sick, time for production is lost and, above all, many spend lot of their monies and resources to buy drugs or travel long distances to clinics at great cost.

"Improving the survival and well being of mothers and children will not only increase the health of society but decrease inequity and poverty."

Dr George said the lives of these mothers and children could be saved using available tools and knowledge as interventions to make a difference since they were affordable even in the poorest countries. He called for a multi-sectoral approach, which required political and technical leadership and commitment of financial resources to recruit, train and deploy sufficient numbers of skilled health care providers so as to achieve the three goals of the Millennium Development Goals, which addressed the health of women and children.

The Report focused on developing countries where progress in maternal and child health was slow, stagnating or had gone into reverse. Dr Frank Nyonator, Director of Planning, Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation of Ghana Health Service, who chaired the function, reiterated the need to invest in activities and actions that promoted the survival of women and children. 30 June 05

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