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Malawi's Child Health Days campaign to help trim child illnesses, deaths

Written by  Mbeleko Gomani

Malawi, where child mortality rate is currently at 42 deaths per 1,000 live births, on Monday launched a week-long Child Health Days (CHD) campaign to reduce child illnesses and deaths through immunisation and vaccination.

Child Health Days campaign targets underfives and women who have just delivered. Child Health Days campaign targets underfives and women who have just delivered.
17
July

The campaign, which is conducted twice a year, “is targeting children aged six months to five years and post-partum mothers who are within eight weeks of delivery,” Dan Namarika, secretary for Ministry of Health and Population, said in a statement.

 

The first round of the campaign started on July 15 and will end on Friday “in all the health facilities, outreach clinics as well as designated temporary sites in districts.”

 

Namarika said various activities that are to be accomplished during the week are de- worming, Vitamin A supplementation, mass nutrition screening, distribution of micronutrient powders to eligible children and dissemination of health-related messages.

 

“The activities will help to increase the immunity against disease and fight malnutrition among others,” he said.

 

Health experts say about 1.4 million children are stunted because of lack of proper nutrition.

 

Speaking in Lilongwe to mark the launch of the CHD week, United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) chief of nutrition, Dr Sangita Duggal, commended the Ministry of Health for cutting down the number of children deficient in vitamin A from 51 percent to 3 percent, saying this was a “remarkable” feat as no country had achieved this.

 

She attributed the success to efforts and strategies deployed to provide routine vitamin A supplements, saying less the number of people found with vitamin A deficiency, the
fewer the people that would be diagnosed with eye complications.

 

Children from 12-23 months receive all eight basic vaccinations—one dose each of BCG and measles and three doses each of DPTHepB-Hib and polio vaccine.

 

Development partners in 2017 helped Malawi launch Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSSP) and the National Community Health  Strategy (NCHS) which helped the country
achieve four of the 8 Millenium Development Goals.

 

Health Donors Group chairperson Johannes Wedenig said at the time that there was significant progress in reducing child mortality and combating HIV and Aids, malaria and
other diseases.

 

Under HSSP I, targets for under-five mortality and infant mortality were surpassed and HIV prevalence among adults declined substantially although Malawi’s maternal and neonatal mortality rates are among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Wedenig thanked Malawi for developing the two strategic plans, saying the plans will play a critical role in sealing the gaps existing in the health sector and ensuring that Malawians attain the highest possible level of health and quality of life.

 

Ministry of Health (MoH) director of planning and policy development Emma Mabvumbe said under-five mortality in Malawi dropped from 78 per 1 000 live births to 63 per 1 000 whereas infant mortality rate is at 42 per 1 000 against a target of 45 per 1,000.

Mabvumbe said maternal mortality rate is estimated at 439 per 100 000 live births as per
2010 statistics whereas ne-onatal mortality stood at 27 per 100 000 live births.

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