Only 16 out of 68 priority countries are on track to meeting Millenium Development Goal (MDG) targets on child survival (to reduce under-5 mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015). At least half of maternal and child deaths in the wold take place in sub-Saharan Africa. According to UK medical journal, The Lancet, reproductive health requires immediate attention at a global level and recognition that it is an essential component of maternal, newborn, and child health strategies.
The authors of the article recommend three areas for improvement – health systems, nutrition and the use of data to monitor interventions. Tanzania, a neighbouring country to Malawi, is hailed a success story when it comes to adequate distribution of resources:
“The major limitation to expansion of essential services—such as coverage for oral rehydration therapy, treatment of childhood pneumonia, and provision of skilled and emergency obstetric care—is the capacity of the health system. Tanzania is an example of what can be achieved. The country saw a reduction in child mortality of a quarter between 2000 and 2004, although newborn and maternal mortality has yet to be reduced. Tanzania’s government doubled its spending on health, introduced sector-wide basket funding, and expanded coverage of key maternal and child health interventions. Despite the challenges of endemic poverty, less than optimum infrastructure, an insufficient health workforce, high fertility rate, and severe HIV burden, substantial progress was achieved. Concerted political focus on the health system can, in other words, produce results.”
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