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African nations fight neonatal deaths

27th November 2006

16102006_haitigirlbaby.jpgSix low-income African countries have reported a reduced risk of death among their newborn babies, although the region-wide picture remains gloomy.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most dangerous region in the world for a baby to be born, with 1.16 million babies dying each year in the first 28 days of life, according to a recent report by international groups.

However, six countries: Burkina Faso; Eritrea; Madagascar; Malawi; Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, had made significant progress in reducing deaths among newborn babies, the World Health Organisation (WHO), which took part in the study, said in a statement.

Those countries had reported an average reduction of 29% over the last 10 years in newborn mortality rates, ranging from a 20% drop in neonatal deaths in Tanzania and Malawi to 39% in Burkina Faso and 47% in Eritrea, the report said.

It cited a presidential-level commitment to maternal, newborn and child health in Malawi, which had accompanied a growth in investment in health personnel.

Tanzania had recorded a 30% reduction in child mortality, and a 20% drop in newborn deaths over the past five years, which came after district health managers set local budget priorities based on deaths in each district, boosting government spending accordingly, it added.

It also highlighted increased transparency in Uganda, and improvements in basic public health services in Eritrea, which reached even the poorest families.

The report, Opportunities for Africa’s Newborns, brings together new data and analysis from a team of 60 authors and nine international organizations from the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. The Partnership represents developing and donor countries, non-governmental agencies, foundations and multi-lateral organizations, including the WHO.
 


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