Save the Children’s “State of World Mothers” report, published today, is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by developing countries in addressing maternal and new born deaths.
Some facts to start. Save the Children’s Mother’s Index ranked 176 countries looking at indicators including maternal health, under-five mortality, and women’s education, income and political status.
The report found that Sub-Saharan Africa countries occupy takes bottom ten spots, with Democratic Republic of Congo propping up the rest. The report finds that
an estimated 397,000 babies die each year in sub-Saharan Africa on the day they are born. The region accounts for 12 percent of the world’s population but 38 percent of the world’s first-day deaths.
Newborn deaths have fallen everywhere in the world, except Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1990 and 2011, due to a surge in population, newborn deaths have increased by 10%.
Elsewhere,India accounts for almost 30% of all new born deaths, 876,000 every year out of 3 million worldwide. In the developed world, the United States has the highest rate of new born deaths with 11,300 babies dying on the day they are born each year.
On the flip side, Finland, and Scandinavian countries in general, fair best with the lowest risk to mothers and their babies.
But it is the information in the report on Uganda which caught by eye due to my ongoing work with Volunteer Uganda and Inspiring Futures: Uganda.
Uganda has taken notable steps, including
a new commitment to do more to prevent preterm births and care for preterm babies.The government’s actions [launched in October 2012] are aimed at increasing availability and accessibility of quality maternal and newborn care services at a national level.
In 2000, Uganda met none of the 27 benchmarks set out for newborn healthcare. As of 2011, 15 of the benchmarks had been achieved with another 9 partially achieved.
But despite this progress, 9% of all children born die before the age of 5, many of them from preventable diseases like malaria.
To push Uganda up from its current ranking of 132 out of 176, more work needs to be done.
That is why my charity, Inspiring Futures: Uganda, and others are working with communities across the country to help combat preventable deaths.
Where I work, in Kanungu district, 37% of all under-5 deaths are caused by malaria. I am working to get properly treated mosquito nets to children at risk. These nets, which cost just £1.50, can be the simple barrier between life and death and can begin to address some of the issues raised in Save the Children’s report.
To find out more about Inspiring Futures’ mosquito net project please follow the link
I’d also encourage you sign up to Save the Children’s global newborn and child survival campaign.