Saturday, May 31, 2008

your child's health report

The report, "The State of Africa's Children 2008," was launched on May 28 at the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Japan.

The facts are shocking.

Although Africa accounts for only 22 percent of births globally, half of the 10 million child deaths annually occur on the continent. Africa is the only continent that has seen rising numbers of deaths among children under five since the 1970s.

Many of these children die of preventable and curable diseases.

UNICEF's report says malaria is the cause of 18 percent of under-five deaths in Africa. Diarrheal diseases and pneumonia -- both illnesses that thrive in poor communities where sanitation is severely compromised, and where residents are often undernourished and exposed to pollution -- account for a further 40 percent of child deaths. Another major killer is AIDS.

sub-Saharan Africa is unlikely to achieve any of the health-related Millenium Development Goals by 2015; the continent lags behind on progress towards eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, improving maternal health, and halting and reversing the spread of HIV. One in every six children in sub-Saharan Africa will still die before his or her fifth birthday. The region is described by UNICEF as the most difficult place in the world for a child to survive.

In South Africa, 250,000 children under 15 are HIV-positive -- a huge proportion of the estimated 400,000 children under 15 who have been infected with HIV in Africa. Despite the expanded provision of anti-retroviral drugs, 64,000 more children contract the virus in South Africa each year. Across the southern African region, under-five deaths have risen by 17 percent between 1990 and 2006; these deaths are mostly attributed to HIV/AIDS.
In West and Central Africa, there were more people without access to clean drinking water in 2004 than in 1990. Unsafe drinking water can cause diarrhea, dysentery, and other water-borne diseases.

It needn't be like that !

There can be expanded immunization programs, the increased use of insecticide-treated bed nets, and the provision of vitamin A supplements to children.
Other interventions in Africa include exclusive breast-feeding practices up to six months and the prescription of anti-retroviral medication to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV.
In Ghana, all pregnant women are now covered by an intervention program that includes iron and folic acid supplementation and preventative treatment for malaria. All children between six months and five years of age are vaccinated against childhood diseases like measles and polio.
In Malawi, the government has rolled out immunization programs as well as micronutrient supplementation -- small amounts of vital minerals like iron, cobalt, chromium, and copper. The government is also building wells to improve access to clean water for people living in remote towns and villages.
Rethinking the supply and management of water systems is also crucial. In Ghana, a water reform program introduced in the 1990s has met with huge success. Responsibility for water supplies was transferred to local governments and rural communities and by 2004 access to clean water sources had increased to 75 percent from a low 55 percent.

Just imagine if there were no financial budgets acting as restraints on peoples needs and that the labour hours spent on wars and State oppression were re-directed to constructive and not destructive purposes.

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