According to a recent report from Countdown to 2015, there has been significant progress in the reduction of maternal and young child mortality in developing countries. The report, titled Accountability for Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival, notes that in particular, Botswana, Rwanda and Cambodia have made significant progress in increasing the availability of programs that prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and in increasing the number of vaccines available for diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus.
The report, which covers the progress of the 75 countries that constitute more than 95% of all maternal and child deaths, noted that half of the countries have reduced child and maternal mortality at a quicker pace since 2000 than they did in the preceding 10 years. Mickey Chopra, MD, PhD, Chief of Health for UNICEF and Co-Chair of Countdown to 2015, praises the cooperation of various stakeholders, remarking that “progress is especially happening in countries where governments are using evidence to guide investment and policy decisions, and where all stakeholders – including the UN, donors, corporates and civil society – are working together effectively to create real change for women and children.”
Over the last 20 years, the number of women who have died each year from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications has dropped approximately 48%, from 543,000 in 1990 to 287,000 in 2010. In addition, the number of children dying under the age of 5 has dropped from an estimated 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.
The report also outlined several areas that still need to see improvements. Work must be done to reduce newborn deaths and infectious diseases among young children, and an increase in exclusive breastfeeding immediately after the birth of a child would help improve nutrition and reduce susceptibility to disease.
Countdown to 2015 is an initiative designed to provide country specific data that will aid developing countries to achieve the health related Millennium Development Goals. In addition to reducing maternal and child mortality, Countdown to 2015 is also concerned with providing family planning services, increasing aid for health related matters, and promoting equal access to healthcare facilities across all countries.
– Chloe Isacke
Photo: Graphic Online