Health experts have warned that South Africa's chances of meeting United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to child mortality are becoming increasingly slim.
Poverty is the underlying cause of child deaths in South Africa, according to a recent study released by the Medical Research Council. But other sub-Saharan African countries, with less money and fewer resources, have managed to cut their child mortality rates. A recent study in The Lancet reported that deaths in children under age five have been dropping in Tanzania, where between 2000 and 2004 child mortality dropped by 24 percent. During this period, the Tanzanian government increased the annual amount spent on healthcare per citizen from 4.70 to 11.70 (about R36 to R89,60). The money was also evenly distributed across the country, rather than favouring richer districts.
Of the ten countries in the world that have the worst rates of child mortality, six* are in West Africa - a region that has seen more than its share of repression and civil strife over recent years.
Women, water and basic hygiene are the key to creating lasting change in Africa, but national water and sanitation plans are still leaving women out, leaders in development said today.
In South Africa, there has been a rapid increase in child mortality - more than 106 000 children under the age of five die each year. A study released in 2003 by the Burden of Disease Research Unit of the Medical Research Council (MRC), has shown that the below-five mortality rate in 2000 was estimated at 95 per 1 000 children.
The State of the World's Children 2002 is about the leadership that was needed to turn commitments made at the 1990 World Summit for Children into actions that improved the lives of children and families. It is also about the leadership that is necessary now and into the future in order to ensure the right of every child to live in peace, health and dignity. The report is available online and in HTML from http://www.unicef.org/sowc02/