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World Vision calls for action on child mortality

 

Limpho Sello

WORLD Vision Lesotho has called for the redoubling of efforts to stem the high mortality of children under the age of five, given that it is among the Millennium Development Goals Lesotho is supposed to have achieved by this year.

World Vision’s “Child Health Now” Coordinator, Moruti Pitso, told a stakeholders meeting, the agency had organised in Maseru last week that children under the age of five continue to die due to preventable diseases.

The “Child Health Now” campaign advocates for government intervention in stopping preventable deaths of children with one in five children in Lesotho dying due to preventable conditions such as malnutrition and dehydration.

The meeting, which was attended by officials from the Ministry of Health, Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations and Christian Council of Lesotho, among others was meant to chart a way towards lowering child mortality.

Mr Pitso said, according to the 2009 Demographic Health Survey (DHS), the mortality of under-fives had risen from 71 deaths per 1 000 live births in 1995 to 117 in 2009.

“This is driven primarily by the HIV pandemic, poor diets and living conditions as well as a deteriorating health care system,” Mr Pitso said.

“However, this is even more saddening because most of these children die of diseases that can be treated and cured if mothers take their children to clinics regularly to get the mother-baby packs and follow the proper dietary plan.

“The high HIV prevalence exacerbates the health system’s problems. Health workers, especially those providing maternal care, are being stretched beyond their capacity because of the high number of people living with HIV, resulting in the lowering of the quality of care.”

Mr Pitso urged stakeholders, from government to civil society organisations (CSOs), to formulate strategies to lower the scourge of child mortality.

He said campaigns against child mortality should target policy makers, women and girls of child-bearing age, children under five, faith based organisations and CSOs.

Mr Pitso added that politicians also need to be engaged since the policies they enact further or retard the cause of the campaign.

“This is not a small issue and we need to know now what they (politicians) are prepared to do in fighting child mortality after they win the (28 February) 2015 general elections, since they will then become policy makers in the incoming government,” he said.

Stakeholders said they would peruse the political parties’ manifestos to see whether stemming child mortality is a priority.

They also called for increased access to essential health services by communities, more utilisation and demand for health services as well as the beefing up of the human resource capacities at health facilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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