Windows of Opportunity Project: Review and Analysis of Maternal and Child Health Development Data for Four Project Districts in South Africa
Up to half a million African babies die on the day they are born, and every year 1.16 million babies die in the first month of life while another one million babies are stillborn. In addition, about 250 000 women die of pregnancy-related causes every year in Africa. The majority of these deaths are preventable. However due to factors such as critical shortage of health professionals and essential materials and infrastructure, ineffective intervention programmes as well as the impact of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, the Africa continent continues to lose millions of babies and mothers every year. Hence, there is a need to strengthen the health systems in many African countries through effective maternal and child health (MCH) intervention programmes.
A major new health workers index by Save the Children has ranked the best and worst countries for a child to fall sick in — with Chad and Somalia at the bottom and Switzerland and Finland at the top.
The index measures not only how many health workers there are, but also their reach and impact.
It shows that children living in the bottom 20 countries — which fall below the WHO minimum threshold of just over two health workers for every thousand people – are five times more likely to die than those further up the index.
This report is based on research conducted between August 2010 and April 2011. During this period, Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed 157 women who received maternal health services, or accompanied other women seeking such services, in Eastern Cape public health facilities over the past five years, and observed health facilities in Eastern Cape Province. In addition to interviewing other experts, Human Rights Watch also reviewed laws, policies, official health strategies, and reports by academics, national and international organizations, and United Nations agencies.