SA in danger of not reducing child mortality

Yugendree Naidoo, IOL

The warning is the latest red light on child mortality after a Medical Research Council study entitled Every Death Counts reported in May that 75 000 children died every year in South Africa before their fifth birthday. The United Nations children's agency, Unicef, has also warned that rising food prices could worsen child mortality. In a June paper in Critical Health Perspectives, a monthly publication produced by the People's Health Movement, a coalition of grassroots organisations involved in healthcare, paediatricians noted that in contrast to most countries, including many in Africa, the under-five mortality rate in South Africa was rising rather than declining. ...75 000 children died every year in South Africa before their fifth birthday In the paper entitled Millennium Development Goals: Progress & Prospects for Meeting Child Survival Targets in South Africa.

The authors said that, based on current trends and unless urgent measures were taken to address the main causes of death for children under five years old, South Africa had little hope of reaching the fourth MDG goal. This, one of eight goals relating to the reduction of global poverty between 1990 and 2015, stipulates that South Africa needs to achieve an under-five mortality rate of 20 deaths per 1 000 children by 2015. At present, according to Unicef's State of the World's Children 2008 report, the figure was 76 deaths per 1 000 children in 2006. The authors of the paper include Professor David Sanders from the University of the Western Cape 's School of Public Health , as well as Professor Brian Eley and Professor George Swingler of the Red Cross Children's Hospital. They stated that the biggest killers of small children remain unchanged: HIV and AIDS, diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections, low birth weight and malnutrition. Household food insecurity, inadequate childcare, poor health and environmental services and inadequate diets underpinned frequent illness among children, they said.