The Ministry of Health says although it has cut child mortality by 70 percent even before the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) four deadline, there is need to strengthen interventions in reducing neonatal deaths.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said this in reaction to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) on the findings of the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN-Igme) indicating the drop.
He said the development means that more children are now reaching the age of five and Malawi should be proud to be one of the pacesetters in contributing to reduced mortality among the world’s youngest.
Chikumbe, however, said the country has experienced a slow reduction in neonatal mortality, saying it is one of those that experience highest pre-term births in the world.
“These occur as a result of factors such as delay in seeking care, delay in reaching care and delay in receiving care,” he said.
UN-Igme produces annual reports giving child mortality estimates for each country.
This year’s report says Malawi has a rate of 64 deaths per 1 000 births, surpassing the MDG4 target of 76 deaths per 1 000 births. It achieved the target last year.
Unicef country representative Mahimbo Mdoe said the organisation will now strive to mobilise resources and implement the Newborn Action Plan which will, among others, improve training of maternity health workers, investment in equipment and interventions that save newborn lives and follow-up visits in the community to new mothers and babies.
Said Mdoe: “Newborns make up to 30 per cent of under-five deaths which means we need to do more to ensure that neonatal survival becomes a major priority and more young lives are saved.”
He said despite being rated as one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi’s success demonstrates that substantial reductions in child mortality can be achieved amid formidable challenges